Search for over 80 million sold items in our price database

Nu couche
Sold
Nu couche
Sold

Nu couche

US
NY, US
US

About the item

Nu couché, executed in 1932, is a depiction of the artist’s twenty-two year old mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter (see fig. 1). Picasso had met the young woman by chance on the streets of Paris in 1927, and shortly thereafter he began a romantic relationship with her that lasted well into the next decade. Because he was still married to Olga Kokhlova during this time, the couple's affair was largely shrouded in secrecy, even after the birth of their daughter Maya in 1935. Nevertheless, Marie-Thérèse's image appeared in numerous compositions during this period, making no mystery of the artist's fascination with his mistress. For Picasso, who was in his mid-fifties at the time, Marie-Thérèse represented the epitome of youth and inspired a fresh, new direction in his painting. She became Picasso's muse during the 1930s, and his depictions of her are considered some of the finest works of his career. Reminiscing about this time in her life, Marie-Thérèse told of how Picasso ushered her from the naiveté of adolescence into a world rich with pleasures that she had never before imagined. "I was seventeen years old," she recalled, "I was an innocent young girl. I knew nothing -- either of life or of Picasso. Nothing. I had gone to do some shopping at the Galeries Layfayette, and Picasso saw me leaving the Metro. He simply took me by the arm and said: 'I am Picasso! You and I are going to do great things together!" (quoted in Pierre Daix, Picasso, Life and Art, New York, 1993, p. 202).\n\nThis canvas is one of the many pictures Picasso completed at Boisgeloup, the 18th century château in Normandy where he and Marie-Thérèse carried on their romance, far away from Olga's scrutiny. Boisgeloup housed an impressive studio where in 1930-31 the artist rendered some of his first representations of his mistress in the form of massive sculpted heads (see fig. 2). These sculptures exaggerated Marie-Thérèse's distinctive features and established the aesthetic that became specific to his representations of her throughout the 1930s. In contrast to the aggressively abstracted and angular images of Olga that he executed during this decade, Picasso's depictions of Marie-Thérèse, with their soft curves and generous forms, are overwhelmingly sensual and attest to his passion for this young woman. John Berger once interpreted these pictures as the sensation of erotic pleasure made manifest through visual imagery. "Even when she is dressed or with her daughter," Berger writes, "she is seen in the same way; soft as a cloud, easy, full of precise pleasures, and inexhaustible because alive and sentient" (quoted in Judi Freeman, Picasso and the Weeping Woman (exhibition catalogue), Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago, 1994-95, p. 147).\n\nMarie-Thérèse is most often depicted either seated in a chair or sleeping. These inherently passive representations portray her as the embodiment of non-threatening femininity and sensual delight. Writing about Le Miroir (see fig. 3), an oil which is closely related to the present work, Robert Rosenblum discussed the significance of the Sleeping Woman in many of Picasso’s pictures from the 1930s: "In The Mirror, a painting of March 12, 1932, [Marie-Therese] has fallen into so profound a sleep that her lilac flesh has sunk in total abandon in the bottom of the canvas. Leo Steinberg has pointed out the continuity of the theme of sleepwatchers in Picasso’s long career; here it flourishes again, perhaps made even more intense in such works by implying rather than depicting the sleepwatcher. ‘How much I love her now that she’s sleeping’ is how Picasso would later describe, in a poem of 1935, the voyeuristic rapture so evident in this and other paintings of his somnolent mistress" (Robert Rosenblum, "Picasso’s Blond Muse: The Reign of Marie-Thérèse Walter," Picasso and Portraiture, Representation and Transformation (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Grand Palais, Paris, 1996-97, p. 348).\n\nThe present work belongs to a series of paintings Picasso completed in early 1932, including Le Miroir and Nu féminin couché (see fig. 4), depicting Marie-Thérèse sleeping in the nude. Executed on canvas with charcoal, it demonstrates the artist’s skill as a draftsman and the numerous preliminary ideas that he considered before arriving at this final image. Sweeping curves delineate the figure’s breasts, hair and profile, and the pentimenti add a grace and lyricism to the background of the composition. The horizontal, parallel lines that are directly above the figure suggest the beveled frame of a mirror or a type of architectural molding, and with these allusions to interior space, Picasso has created a shelter for his precious muse. When it was exhibited in Montreal in 1985, Pierre Théberge wrote the following about this work: "This charcoal displays the extraordinary virtuosity of Picasso’s drawing skills. The artist has gone over his traces many times, putting a lively rhythm into the work and giving it great elegance. The body of the sleeping woman seems to fuse with the mattress and pillow on which she rests. The horizontality of the composition further accentuates the impression of repose" (Pierre Théberge, Pablo Picasso: Meeting in Montreal (exhibition catalogue), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1985, p. 166).\n\nNu couché remained in Picasso’s private collection until his death in 1973. It was kept in the collection of his late wife Jacqueline, and later inherited by her daughter.\n\nComparables:\nFig. 1, Marie-Thérèse, circa 1930\nFig. 2, Picasso’s studio at Boisgeloup, 1932, photograph by Brassaï\nFig. 3, Pablo Picasso, Le Miroir, March 12, 1932, oil on canvas, Private Collection\nFig. 4, Pablo Picasso, Nu féminin couché, March 13, 1932, oil and charcoal on canvas, whereabouts unknown
US
NY, US
US

medium

Charcoal on canvas

creator

Pablo Picasso

dimensions

38 1/4 by 51 1/4 in. (97.2 by 130.2 cm)

exhibition

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Pablo Picasso: Meeting in Montreal, 1985, no. 19 New York, Pace Wildenstein, Picasso and Drawing, 1995, no. 50 Milan, Palazzo Reale, Picasso, 1898 to 1973, 2001 New York, Museum of Modern Art, Matisse Picasso, 2003

literature

The Picasso Project, Picasso’s Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, Surrealism, 1930-1936, San Francisco, 1997, no. 32-030, illustrated p. 99

provenance

Estate of the artist Jacqueline Roque Picasso (acquired from the above) Catherine Hutin-Blay (by descent from the above) Pace Wildenstein, New York Acquired from the above on May 31, 1995

time_period

Executed in 1932.

consignmentDesignation

Property from The Bill Blass Collection

creator_nationality_dates

1881-1973


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


Advert
Advert

Sold items

Nu couché
Sold

Nu couché

Realized Price
170,405,000 USD

Nu assis sur un divan (La Belle Romaine)
Sold

Nu assis sur un divan (La Belle Romaine)

Realized Price
68,962,500 USD

Nu couché (sur le côté gauche)
Sold

Nu couché (sur le côté gauche)

Realized Price
26,887,500 USD

Nu au collier
Sold

Nu au collier

Realized Price
23,344,579 USD

Nu allongé I (Aurore)
Sold

Nu allongé I (Aurore)

Realized Price
20,431,125 USD

Mousquetaire et nu assis
Sold

Mousquetaire et nu assis

Realized Price
19,501,925 USD

Nu couché vu de dos
Sold

Nu couché vu de dos

Realized Price
18,496,000 USD

Vénus (Nu debout, nu médicis)
Sold

Vénus (Nu debout, nu médicis)

Realized Price
15,920,000 USD

Nu jaune
Sold

Nu jaune

Realized Price
13,736,000 USD

Mousquetaire et nu assis
Sold

Mousquetaire et nu assis

Realized Price
13,338,460 USD

Nicolas de Staël (1914-1955) Nu Debout
Sold

Nicolas de Staël (1914-1955) Nu Debout

Realized Price
12,125,000 USD

Nu aux jambes croisées
Sold

Nu aux jambes croisées

Realized Price
12,010,000 USD