Étude de Profils

Étude de Profils

Study of Profiles

Artist: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Medium: Lithograph(pen, crayon, frottage, brush, scraper on paper, transferred to zinc)
Dimensions: Print 745 x 556mm, 29.3 x 21.9″; Sheet 761x567mm, 30 x 22.3″
Signature: Signed “Picasso” in pencil
References: Bloch 581; Mourlot 132; Cantz 432; Rau 404
Edition: Numbered 40/50; printed by Mourlot before the zinc was polished out
Paper: Arches wove; untrimmed
Watermark: Arches
Impression: Very fine
Condition: Expertly repaired, hard to see, small, one cm tear along the left edge; 2.5cm faint annular tide mark along the left edge seen only on the back; otherwise flawless
Price: Upon request

“OK, tall people to the back row. Hey, you, in the second row, yeah you, would you move your head a bit to the side?” Well, what can you say to 20 Picasso portraits for the price of one? Fine, you don’t believe me–go count them yourself!

This charming collection of visages offers a reprise of Picasso’s neoclassical portraiture, with a couple of caricatures thrown into the crowd. The portraits are as different from one another as can be, but they are united by a common focus to the side. The mood of the crowd is generally serene, with gentle smiles playing on their lips. Only the two caricatures have their doubts. As one inevitably scans the work from face to face to face, one gradually takes on the crowd’s peaceful mood.

By contrast, the lone eyes below gaze straight at us with an uncompromising stare. They underscore Picasso’s pictorial emphasis on eyes, the facial feature upon which he lavished the most attention and in the portrayal of which he was the most inventive.

This work really needs to be seen in person to be fully appreciated, not the least of which reasons is its large scale. At 75 cm, I believe it is the third largest Picasso lithograph. Mourlot recorded that this lithograph was created as a “series of pen and brush drawings [and] crayon rubbings to try a paper sized according to the artist’s instructions.” Presumably, Picasso realized that this larger scale would be better suited to such an elaborate study of physiognomy.