Pablo Ruiz Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973). Graphite sketch on graph paper titled "Self Portrait with Marie-Therese Walter," depicting two portraits along the front of the artist and his lover and model, Marie-Therese Walter (French, 1909-1977). She was the mother of their daughter Maya Widmaier-Picasso (b. 1935). The verso of this piece renders several sketches of various objects including a wardrobe cabinet, a ball, a cage, a snail, a human figure, a dog, and an elegant hound voiding his bowels.
A multi-faceted artist who worked as a sculptor, painter, printmaker, and theater designer, Pablo Picasso is known as the co-founder of the Cubist movement and regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.
The artist was born on October 25, 1881 in Malaga, Spain to Don Jose Ruiz y Blasco (1838-1913) and Maria Picasso y Lopez. His father was a naturalist painter of birds and game as well as a professor of art at the School of Crafts and a curator of a local museum. From the early age of seven, Picasso received formal traditional artistic training from his father, copying work from old masters and rendering the human body through the use of live models and plaster casts.
This training took place throughout Picasso's childhood. In 1891, his family moved to A Coruna where they resided for four years while his father took a position at the School of Fine Arts there. Picasso's artistic capabilities grew, and even Ruiz claimed that his son had surpassed his own talents. In 1895, his sister, Lola, died from diptheria, and the family moved once again, this time to Barcelona. As a professor at the School of Fine Arts, his father persuaded the institution to let Picasso take the entrance exam for advanced classes at the mere age of thirteen. Though this process typically took a month to complete, Picasso finished in a short week and was accepted into the advanced courses. At age sixteen, Picasso's father and uncle sent him to the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. However, soon after enrollment Picasso stopped attending classes but was instead invigorated by attractions such as the Prado with artistic works by masters Diego Velazquez, Francisco Goya, Francisco Zurbaran, and El Greco.
By the time Picasso married his first wife, Olga Stepanovna Khokhlova, in 1918, he had risen to success and acquired some fame and fortune as a forerunner of the Cubist movement, though this contrasted greatly with his humble "starving artist" beginnings and continuing bohemian lifestyle. Khokhlova came from high society and introduced her new husband to formal dinner parties and life of the rich in Paris during the 1920s. This clashed with Picasso's own world views and inevitably led to the couple's demise.
A long-standing secret affair began in 1927 between Picasso and the then 17-year-old Marie-Therese Walter. In 1935, Marie became pregnant and it was then that a friend told Khokhlova about Picasso's mistress. Khokhlova and Picasso separated, never divorcing, until Khokhlova's death in 1955. On September 5, 1935, Marie and Picasso's child, Maria de la Concepcion, called "Maya," was born. Though Picasso financially supported Marie and Maya throughout his life, he never married her and had a number of affairs with other women.
Marie was a model and muse for many of Picasso's paintings, sculptures, and drawings including the sketch seen in this lot. She is typically portrayed as bright and blonde in contrast to the weeping woman persona of Picasso's other lover, Dora Maar. Though the sketch on the recto of the artist and his lover is masterful and typical of Picasso's greatest works, the verso renders drawings of dogs, a snail, and other random objects created for the amusement of his daughter, Maya. Both sides demonstrate PicassoÃs virtuoso and ability to be playful yet skillful in his artistic works.
Provenance: The Estate of Marie-Therese Walter, France; Private collection, Minnesota.
Literature: Josep Palau I Fabre, "Pare Picasso," Barcelona: Ediciones Poligrafa, 1977.
Height: 5 3/4 in x width: 3 3/4 in.
The drawing is in good condition overall. The drawing is executed on graph paper and has a deckled edge along the right. There is a paper loss along the lower right. A repair to a 1 inch tear that goes from the upper right edge, diagonally downward. Some areas of skinning along the upper left and right corners. Some light surface soiling. Some minor losses and one small tear along the lower edge. The drawing bears light impressions of the drawings on the verso. The drawing is not framed.
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