Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (A. R. 517)
stamped and numbered 'Madoura Plein Feu/26/50/Empreinte Originale de Picasso' (on the reverse)
partially glazed terracotta plaque
20 x 24 in. (50.9 x 61 cm.)
Conceived in 1964 and executed in a numbered edition of 50

Click on the lot number to be taken to details of the lots displayed in this group image from left to right Lot 37 Femme au chapeau fleuri (A. R. 521) and Lot 25 Petit buste de femme (A. R. 523) and Lot 29 Tête de femme à la couronne de fleurs (A. R. 522) and Lot 33 Femme aux cheveux flous (A. R. 520)
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Lot Essay

This plaque depicts Édouard Manet’s classic image Le déjeuner sur l'herbe, 1862-1863, a painting which was to have a profound effect on Picasso. In 1932, on the back of an envelope from the Simon Gallery, Picasso wrote “When I see Manet’sLunch on the Grass I tell myself there is pain ahead.” This ambiguous statement, and rare written commentary on other painters, reveals the fascination Picasso had with Manet’s controversial image. Picasso was to re-visit the work of many great masters for his “variations,” such as Cranach, Velásquez, Rembrandt, and Delacroix, but his experiments with Manet’s famed painting was, without doubt, the most profound and complex of them all. Drawn to its modernity and subversion, where oddly paired nude and clothed figures, inhabit this strange Arcadian, almost theatrical scene, Picasso began to work on a series of his own versions, at first starting with sketches in 1954 and soon progressing to a series of paintings, of which he did twenty-seven between the period of 1959-1961. This practice of copying and borrowing to explore one’s own style was just as typical for Picasso as it was for Manet, with Picasso constantly manipulating the composition, figurative positioning and emotional resonance of the original to reach his own ends. In the present work Picasso simplifies the scene, using the two-tone color scheme and employment of engraving to grant a sense of energy and dynamism to the piece through the rhythm of line and mark-making. The women’s nudity is overtly enhanced as are the characters of the men, with Ferdinand Leenhoff resembling a caricature, while Manet’s brother Eugène or Gustave is comically reduced to a pipe protruding from a disc-like face that sits upon two stick-legs. In this plaque Picasso displays his versatility and his mastery of the two-dimensional plane, bringing the iconic scene to life beyond these parameters, in a humorous and highly unique manner.

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