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Nu couché et femme se lavant les pieds
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About the item

Painted on April 18, 1944 in his studio on the rue des Grands-Augustins, Nu couché et femme se lavant les pieds exemplifies one of Picasso’s important war year themes – the reclining nude. Rather than painting the atrocities of war, Picasso instead devoted his pictures to representing still-lifes created in his studio, or to dramatic interpretations of the women in his life. The subject of the reclining nude is among his most celebrated from these years, and is a representation of sexuality, physicality and vulnerability interpreted through the dramatic filter of current events.   In the present composition, Picasso features two women – one entirely nude and reclining in the glare of a lamp light, and one fully-clothed and washing her feet. The imagery calls to mind the biblical concubine Magdalene and her ceremonious washing of the feet, but the inspiration for this canvas is most likely Francisco Goya’s La Maja desnuda and the dramatic reclining nudes of Ingres. In the following decade Picasso would draw his inspiration liberally from the precedents of the Old Masters, aiming to establish himself squarely within their realm. This preoccupation with his own legacy might have been ignited by his experience living in Paris during the occupation, with its relentless reminders of the fragility of life and the defining of heroic action.\nDue to the confining circumstances of occupied Paris, Picasso frequently painted at night or during the afternoon behind heavily shaded windows. This process created the chromatic severity of many of his war time compositions, and personified the tensions felt under the conditions of Nazi occupied Paris. The palette of the composition, with its stark grays, browns and ambers, calls to mind the uniforms of the occupying forces and the surreal tension that pervaded Picasso’s world during this era. Picasso’s life was not only colored by the war in the 1940s but also by tumultuous personal relationships. When the present work was completed in 1944, Picasso was involved in a veritable love triangle with the Surrealist photographer Dora Maar and the young painter Francoise Gilot. Picasso had met Dora Maar in the autumn of 1935, and for the next decade Picasso famously portrayed her as the Weeping Woman or the personification of wartime agony. But in 1943 following a chance encounter at a restaurant, a new woman began to infiltrate Picasso’s creative universe: Francoise Gilot, the young painter, who would eventually eclipse Maar as Picasso’s primary source of inspiration. Picasso had already become intimately involved with Gilot when he painted the present work, and his artistic and romantic attention during this period was divided between the two women. The present work, therefore, may have been a manifestation of this love triangle, with one woman firmly established in the bed of her beloved while the other prepares to leave.\nIn the years following the war, Picasso was scrutinized by some of his contemporaries for what they viewed as a lack of political engagement, commentary or the avoidance of politically charged compositions. Aside from Picasso’s Guernica and Charnel House, the artist largely avoided any direct representation of wartime events. Rather than using his canvases as vehicle for documenting the destructive reality that surrounded him, Picasso utilized his craft as a world of creativity into which he could escape. Steven A. Nash wrote about Picasso’s war years, “Yet no other artist of the twentieth century left so sustained and moving a visual record of the corrosive effect of war on the human spirit and its toll on human life. His achievement was to create a modern alternative to history painting. As he explained to an American war correspondent who sought him out at his studio in Paris just days after its liberation: 'I have not painted the war because I am not the kind of painter who goes out like a photographer for something to depict. But I have no doubt that the war is in these paintings I have done. Later on perhaps the historians will find them and show that my style has changed under the war’s influence. Myself, I do not know'” (Steven A. Nash, Picasso and the War Years, 1937-1945, p. 13).\nSigned Picasso (lower right) and dated 18 Avril 44 on reverse
US
NY, US
US

medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Pablo Picasso

condition

Very good condition Original canvas. There are some very minor craquelures which are stable and secure mainly to the vicinity of the stretcher bars. There are two pin size losses of paint to the lower left corner. Under UV light, pinhead size retouching to the white at upper right and to the framing edges. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.

dimensions

38 1/4 by 51 1/4 in.

exhibition

London, Victoria and Albert Museum, Picasso and Matisse, 1945, no. 9 (incorrectly dated April 18, 1940) Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 27 Oeuvres de Pablo Picasso (1939-1945), 1946, no. 21 Milan, Palazzo Reale, Pablo Picasso, 1953, no. 109, illustrated in the catalogue Worcester, The Worcester Art Museum, Picasso: His Later Works, 1938-1961, 1962, no. 12, illustrated in the catalogue Toronto, The Art Gallery of Toronto & Montreal, The Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Picasso and Man, 1964, no. 238, illustrated in the catalogue San Francisco, The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, The California Palace of the Legion of Honor & New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Picasso and the War Years, 1999, no. 75, illustrated in color in the catalogue

literature

Harriet & Sidney Janis, Picasso, The Recent Years, 1939-1946, Garden City, 1946, illustrated pl. 11 (incorrectly dated August 18, 1944) Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Oeuvres de 1943 et 1944, Paris, 1962, vol. XIII, no. 273, illustrated p. 135 (incorrectly dated August 18, 1944) Picasso, Kodansha, Ltd., Tokyo, 1981, vol. 5, illustrated p. 100 The Picasso Project ed., Picasso’s Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, Nazi Occupation, 1940-1944, San Francisco, 2013, no. 44-055a, illustrated p. 356

provenance

Kootz Gallery, New York (acquired from the artist) Private Collection, New York (acquired in 1956 and sold: Phillips de Pury, New York, May 2000, lot 29) Private Collection (acquired at the above sale) Acquired from the above by the present owner

signedDate

Signed Picasso (lower right) and dated 18 Avril 44 on reverse

time_period

Painted on April 18, 1944.

consignmentDesignation

Property from an Important Private American Collector

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.


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