Pablo Picasso - Deux femmes nues se tenant
Deux femmes nues se tenant
Graphite drawing, partly wiped, on firm laid paper with watermark "INGRES" 63.5 x 46.3 cm Signed 'Picasso' in pencil lower right.
This outstanding drawing by the 23-year-old Picasso, which is also referred to as “Two nudes” in exhibition catalogues, was created in one of the most fertile periods of his work, between Gósol in Spain and Paris. The end of the Rose Period is when his studies for one of his most important works begin: “Les Demoiselles d'Avignon” (1907), which represents a turning point in his oeuvre. Picasso first showed it to a few artist friends, however, they did not recognise its epochal significance - except for Gertrude Stein. She was deeply impressed.
Our large drawing can be interpreted as one of the first steps towards this masterpiece. It served directly as a preparatory work for the painting of the same name (autumn 1906, 151 x 100 cm, Zervos vol. 1 360, see comp. illus.), which is now a Swiss private collection, and also for the ink-and-wash drawing “Femmes d'Andorre”, from the collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art.
The present drawing is additionally reproduced on page 478 of volume one of John Richardson's authoritative publication “A life of Picasso, 1881-1906”, where it is titled “Due nude, Gósol 1906” - its provenance at that time was the Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris.
Another preparatory drawing, from the summer of 1906, is to be found as catalogue number 34, “Bäuerinnen aus Andorra”, in Werner Spies's “Picasso” (Tübingen 1986). It is reproduced in a full-page image on page 21 and located in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
It is significant that the encounter between two women, which still possessed a strong social and moral message during the Blue Period, is transformed into the pure addition of two women in Gósol. Finally this represents one of the earliest major pre-Cubist formal variations. In this context, the juxtaposition of the women increasingly loses its narrative content - turning into a kind of mirroring which has to capture the multi-perspectivism of the bodies on one sheet.
No work is as close to the painting in the sense of a bozzetto as our very well preserved, large drawing in graphite. Shortly thereafter - under the influence of Paul Cézanne, who died that same year and whom Picasso referred to as the “father of us all” - he further developed our drawing in the famous picture of the same title (Zervos vol. 1 366, see comp. illus.), now at New York's Museum of Modern Art.
It is rare for such an important drawing by the young Pablo Picasso to enter the market.
The Picasso Project 06-218; Zervos vol. 6 (Supplement vol. 1-5) 875
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris; Collection Augstein, Hamburg; Private collection, Germany
Josep Palau i Fabre, Picasso Vivent. The Early Years 1881-1907, Barcelona/Cologne 1980/1981, cat. no. 1351 with illus. p. 471 (“Sketch for ‘Two Nude Women Arm in Arm’”); John Richardson, A Life of Picasso vol. 1, London i. a. 1991, p. 468 with illus. (“Two Nudes”); Alan Wofsy, Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. A Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue 1885-1973, Volume 17: The Rose Period. The Picasso Project, Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, San Francisco 2012, cat. no. 1906-218, p. 231 with illus. ("Nude Version of 'Two Andorran Peasant Women and Face of a Gósol Woman'"); Enrique Mallen (ed.), Online Picasso Project, Huntsville (TX) 1997-2020, cat. no. 06/317