Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
signed and dated 'Picasso 14-11-20-' (lower left)
pencil on paper
1412 x 1012 in. (36.7 x 26.7 cm.)
Drawn on 14 November 1920
Brigitte Level, Paris (gift from the artist, February 1971).
Acquired by the late owner, by circa 1995.
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Lot Essay

Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Drawn with impressive intricacy, Fillette is a portrait of Brigitte Level, the niece of André Level, the art critic, collector, and champion of the avant-garde circle in Paris. Drawn in 1920, when Brigitte was two years old, this work dates from Picasso’s Neo-Classical period, during which the artist radically married naturalistic draftsmanship with a Greco-Roman linearity. In this full-length drawing, Picasso masterfully captured the hesitating curiosity that sometimes seizes small children in front of an unknown adult, halting for a moment their relentless movement. With an inquisitive look, and her right fingers lifted self-consciously to her face, the small girl seems to have paused in her wondering, perhaps to consider the presence of the artist in front of her. The series of exacting semi-circular lines depicting Brigitte’s hair, face, and lace-rimmed dress seem to pulsate outwards, evoking movement while fixing the figure in place on the white sheet.

The round and linear forms employed by Picasso in Fillette are consistent with the classical and monumental style the artist had adopted in the early 1920s. In his paintings, Picasso had indeed introduced colossal figures, endowed with clear profiles and sculptural bodies. This aesthetic was reflected, in Picasso’s drawings by a precise, single line graphic style of Ingresque inspiration. One of the most remarkable expressions of this style is found in a series of portraits that Picasso executed in 1922 of several of his friends and acquaintances, including André Derain, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Igor Stravinsky. Depicting a more endearing and spontaneous subject, Fillette displays a similar, yet less restrained graphic style, offering a more vibrant counterpart to those portraits’ authoritative stillness and meticulous rigor.

This drawing was gifted to Brigitte by the artist in 1971. It was subsequently acquired by circa 1995 by the late Terry Allen Kramer, who in addition to being an art collector, was a five-time Tony Award winner and producer of dozens of Broadway shows.

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