Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Picasso et Ses Muses: The Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Buste de femme nue (Tête de profil)

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Buste de femme nue (Tête de profil)
signed 'Picasso' (upper left); dated and numbered '15.5.63.II' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
36 1/8 x 23 5/8 in. (92.8 x 59.9 cm.)
Painted on 15 May 1963
Waddington Galleries, London.
Private collection, Europe; sale, Christie's, London, 30 June 1999, lot 543.
Helly Nahmad Gallery, London (acquired at the above sale).
Acquired from the above by the present owners, 2005.
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1971, vol. 23, no. 275 (illustrated, pl. 126).
Paris, Galerie Louise Leiris (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Picasso: Peintures, 1962-1963, January-February 1964, p. 52, no. 57 (illustrated; titled Tête de femme).
Washington, D.C., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection, October 2015-April 2016, p. 37 (illustrated in color).


Jacqueline Roque became Picasso’s second wife on 2 March 1961; three months later they moved into the villa Notre-Dame-de-Vie—a complimentary metaphor, indeed, for Jacqueline herself—in the hills overlooking Cannes. There, beginning in February 1963, after extended series interpreting selected masterworks of Velázquez, Manet, and Poussin, Picasso settled into the theme that would guide and define the content, in multiple corollary subjects, of his late work. He decided to pursue in his art-making a fundamental, most profoundly simple, one-to-one relationship, the artist and his model—or in life as in art, a man and a woman, Picasso and Jacqueline.
This Buste de femme nue (Tête de profil), is Picasso gazing at Jacqueline, or rather through his mind’s eye, for as the artist’s close friend Hélène Parmelin pointed out, “she did not pose for the Women of Mougins, nor for the Artist and Model series… But every eye is her eye, and every woman has her way of being…She is his imaginary truth—very well known, very much alive, very well explored” (Picasso: The Artist and his Model, New York, 1965, p. 17).
Into the varied textures of paint, and on those portions of the surface without, Picasso brushed and even scraped away his “signs”, those angled and swerving contours that conjure Jacqueline’s presence on the canvas. “Things have got to be named,” Picasso explained. “I want to say the nude; I don’t have to make a nude like a nude; I just want to say breast, to say foot, to say hand, belly—to find a way to say it and that’s enough... What more need I do? What can I add to that? It’s all been said” (quoted in M.-L. Bernadac, “Painting as Model,” Late Picasso, exh., cat., Tate Gallery, London 1988, p. 85).
In the very first portraits that Picasso painted of Jacqueline some nine years previously, on 2 and 3 June 1954 (Zervos, vol. 16, nos. 324-325), the artist viewed his new inamorata in profile, facing left. Picasso was delighted to notice that from this vantage point Jacqueline closely resembled the harem wife on the right side of Eugène Delacroix’s earlier version of Femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement, 1834, in the Louvre. On 14 February 1955, in tribute to Delacroix and to the memory of Henri Matisse, Picasso completed his own series of Les femmes d’Alger, fifteen paintings in which he enshrined Jacqueline as his final Muse.
“It is [Jacqueline’s] image that permeates Picasso’s work from 1954 until her death, twice as long as any of her predecessors,” John Richardson has written. “It is her body that we are able to explore more exhaustively than any other body in the history of art… It is her vulnerability and tenderness that gives a new intensity to the combination of cruelty and tenderness that endows Picasso’s women with their pathos and their strength” (“L’époque Jacqueline,” in exh. cat., ibid., p. 47).

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