PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Buste de Femme au Chapeau
linocut in colours, 1962, on Arches wove paper, signed in pencil, inscribed Epreuve d'artiste, one of approximately twenty artist's proofs, aside from the numbered edition of fifty, published by Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, 1963
Block 630 x 530 mm.
‌Sheet 752 x 619 mm.
With Waddington Graphics, London.
‌Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Bloch 1072; Baer 1318
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Please note this lot is the property of a consumer. See H1 of the Conditions of Sale.
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Lot Essay

Although linocuts form a relatively small part of Picasso’s oeuvre as a printmaker, he produced some of his most outstanding compositions by this medium in a short burst of activity between 1958 to 1963. It was a combination of geographic necessity and artistic curiosity which led him, at the age of 78, to turn away from etching and lithography – hitherto his favourite means of graphic expression – and take up the linocut technique. Picasso had left Paris with Jacqueline Roque in 1958, dividing his time between Villa La Californie at Cannes, and the newly acquired Château de Vauvenargues, near Aix-en-Provence. A major practical drawback of this move was the delay in communicating with the printing studios in Paris. There plates could be proofed and returned within hours; now it took days, robbing Picasso the immediate contact with his printers.

His first involvement with linocut printing had been rather casual. In 1952 he had produced a series of simple posters for the potters of Vallauris, a village in the hills above Cannes. It was only six years later that he engaged with the technique more intensely. Working with the young printer Hidalgo Arnéra, he re-imagined Lucas Cranach’s sober Portrait of a Young Girl. The resulting print is astonishing, but he found the process too labour-intensive and complicated, as it had required the cutting and registering of six different colour blocks, to be printed precisely on top of one another.

When Picasso returned to linocut a few years later, he had come up with an extraordinary solution to his technical problem: rather than use separate blocks for each colour, he printed the whole image from just one block in the so-called ‘reduction’ method. The block was printed in the lightest colour, then cut further and printed successively from the lighter to the darker colours. While making the task of registration much simpler, it required a tremendous power of imagination to foresee how each change in the block would affect the composition as a whole. It was precisely the kind of artistic experiment which Picasso enjoyed and he embraced the challenge wholeheartedly and playfully. His masterpiece of the period, Buste de femme aux chapeau, is one of his greatest portraits of Jacqueline and a prime example of this technical tour-de-force - a creative liberation which resulted in some of the most luminous and joyful images in Picasso’s entire oeuvre.

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