The shaded, volumetric drawings of bathers that Picasso created while on his annual seaside holidays during two successive summers--1927 in Cannes, and 1928 in Dinard (Brittany)--are among the most formally inventive and beautifully rendered works on paper of his entire career. Both series of drawings were done in same-sized carnets, and in their treatment of volume display a sculptural bent. There are two Carnets Cannes, both of which are in the Musée Picasso, Paris. The present pair of bathers is from the Dinard carnet, which was bequeathed to Marina Picasso, the daughter of Picasso's son Paulo; the sheets were subsequently separated, and this drawing, page 5, together with another fine drawing, page 29 (see lot 55) passed to Mr. Krugier. It is indeed a rare event that a Picasso drawing of this superlative kind, so eminently desirable, might ever become available for collectors at a public sale.
Marie-Thérèse Walter, the comely blond teenager who in early 1927 became Picasso's mistress, was the artist's inspiration for both series of bathers, but was present on neither occasion when Picasso executed these drawings. After installing his wife Olga and Paulo in Cannes in mid-July 1927, Picasso hurried back to Paris to secretly meet with Marie-Thérèse. He was more obsessed with her than ever when he returned to Cannes and began to fill two carnets with a series of bather drawings (fig. 1), in which "Marie-Therese's pumped up body," as John Richardson described them, assumed "the guise of his own engorged penis" (A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, New York, 2007, p. 339). These works, including related paintings (Zervos, vol. 7, no. 223, Musée Picasso, Paris; fig. 2), display a radical re-imagining of the female body, tinged with surrealism, and a surprisingly sensual if bizarre plasticism.
Picasso chose Dinard for his summer holiday in 1928, mainly because he arranged to have his girlfriend stay in a nearby pension de jeune filles, a place where she and Olga would never cross paths, and under proper supervision she would be protected from roving young men when the artist needed to be with his wife and son. Richardson believes that Picasso additionally rented a room where they could be together and he attend to his work. Marie-Thérèse had not yet arrived in Dinard when on 27 July Picasso suddenly began the new series of bathers. "Unlike the femmes-phalluses in the Cannes drawings, which appear to be made of erectile tissue," Richardson has written, "the matière of the Dinard ones is less highly charged: driftwood, pebbles and bones that have been smoothed by the sea. 'Pebbles are so beautiful,' Picasso told Brassaï... 'the sea has already done it so well, giving them forms so pure that all is needed is a lick of the finger to make them into works of art'" (quoted in ibid., p. 357). John Golding marveled at the way in which the object-forms had been "propped and piled onto each other in arrangements that are precarious and yet have a quality of static balance reminiscent of ancient dolmens" (quoted in exh. cat., op. cit., 1985, n.p.).
Having appeared singly in the Cannes drawings, most of which Picasso drew in softly shaded pencil or charcoal, Marie-Thérèse often shares the scene with a second figure in the Dinard series, which he executed in the more dramatic, densely cross-hatched chiaroscuro of pen and black ink, faultlessly rendered--these drawings (fig. 3) perhaps constitute an even more astonishing feat of superbly assured draughtsmanship than the Cannes set. As the possible impetus for the paired Dinard figures, Richardson has pointed out the summer weekend festivities in town, "with a beauty pageant of girls in bathing suits vying to be 'Miss France'." Marie-Thérèse arrived on 5 August; with her present, "Picasso no longer needed to conceptualize her" (ibid., pp. 359 and 360). The later drawings in the carnet show Marie-Thérèse and her house-mates playing with balls on the beach, an activity Picasso depicted in paintings that summer as well (fig. 4).
Picasso had in mind a related purpose when he hatched and shaded the Cannes and Dinard drawings to represent sculptural volume. A committee of friends of the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who died in the influenza epidemic of 1918, asked Picasso to provide a maquette for a memorial that would mark the poet's grave in the Père-Lachaise cemetery. Picasso turned the burgeoning Dionysian forms of the Cannes drawings into a bather sculpture, Metamorphose I (Spies, no. 67; Musée Picasso). As Richardson has explained, "by harnessing his ongoing amour fou for Marie-Thérèse to his feelings of love and grief for Apollinaire, Picasso would have brought a monument to the dead to life" (ibid., p. 348). The friends of Apollinaire were shocked and turned it down.
The Dinard drawings are even more impressively sculptural in their feeling for weight and balance than the Cannes sets, and are not so erotically charged; they nonetheless fared no better with Apollinaire's friends, many of whom had been Picasso's associates during the cubist years. Such was also the fate of the maquette Figure, 1928 (Spies, no. 68), that Picasso created in iron wire and sheet metal with the help of Julio González. Picasso based this sculpture on various point and line sketches, pages 13-20 in the Carnet Dinard, which suddenly appear following the volumetric drawings, as if to explore by way of the strongest possible contrast two different approaches to working in three dimensions: weight and volume vs. lightness and open space. The matter of the Apollinaire monument became frustratingly protracted and was not resolved until 1959, when the committee accepted Picasso's offer of a large bronze head he done of Dora Maar in 1941.
Marie-Thérèse Walter on the beach at Dinard, summer 1929. Photograph by Pablo Picasso. BARCODE: 28858645
(fig. 1) Pablo Picasso, Baigneuse à la cabine, Cannes, summer 1927. Musée Picasso, Paris. BARCODE: ART468772_DHR
(fig. 2) Pablo Picasso, Joueurs de ballon sur la plage, 15 August 1928. Musée Picasso, Paris. BARCODE: ART321342_DHR
(fig. 3) Pablo Picasso, Carnet Dinard, page 4, Dinard, summer 1928. Private collection. BARCODE: 28857273
(fig. 4) Pablo Picasso, Couple au bord de la mer, Dinard, 10 August 1928. Private collection. BARCODE: 28857266
Carnet Dinard (Carnet 1044, page 5)
Pen and India ink on paper
Dated '29.-30 juillet 1928' (lower center)
Pablo Picasso , 1920s, Drawings & Watercolors, ink, France, Surrealist, abstract
Munich, Haus der Kunst; Cologne, Josef-Haubrich-Kunsthalle in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Museum Ludwig; Frankfurt am Main, Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut and Kunsthaus Zürich, Pablo Picasso: Eine Ausstellung zum hundertsten Geburtstag, Werke aus der Sammlung Marina Picasso, February 1981-March 1982, p. 317, no. 149 (full sketchbook illustrated, pp. 141-155; the present work illustrated, pp. 122 and 143).
Venice, Centro di Cultura di Palazzo Grassi, Picasso: opere dal 1895 al 1971 dalla Collezione Marina Picasso, May-July 1981, pp. 295-309, nos. 188-198 (full sketchbook illustrated; the present work illustrated, pp. 72 and 297).
Tokyo, The National Museum of Modern Art and Kyoto Municipal Museum, Picasso: Masterpieces from Marina Picasso Collection and from Museums in U.S.A. and U.S.S.R., April-July 1983, p. 253, no. 117 (full sketchbook illustrated, pp. 253-266; the present work illustrated, p. 255).
Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria and Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Picasso, July-December 1984, pp. 199-205, no. 172 (full sketchbook illustrated; the present work illustrated, p. 199).
New York, William Beadleston, Inc., Through the Eye of Picasso, 1928-1934: The Dinard Sketchbook and Related Paintings and Sculpture, October-December 1985, no. 5 (illustrated, p. 5).
Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Picassos Surrealismus, Werke 1925-1937, September-December 1991, pp. 308-309, no. 16.
Duisburg, Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum and Hamburger Kunsthalle, Pablo Picasso, Wege zur Skulptur: Die Carnets Paris und Dinard aus der Sammlung Marina Picasso, January-August 1995 (full sketchbook illustrated).
Dinard, Palais des Arts, Picasso à Dinard, June-September 1999, p. 169, no. 47 (illustrated).
New York, Jan Krugier Gallery, Pablo Picasso Metamorphoses: Works from 1898 to 1973 from the Marina Picasso Collection, May-July 2002, p. 124, no. 47 (illustrated, p. 45).
Vienna, Albertina Museum, Goya bis Picasso: Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, April-August 2005, pp. 340 and 342, no. 148 (illustrated in color, p. 343).
Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Das ewige Auge: Von Rembrandt bis Picasso, Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, July-October 2007, p. 382, no. 183 (illustrated in color, p. 383).
Bern, Zentrum Paul Klee, Klee rencontre Picasso, June-September 2010, p. 276 (illustrated in color, p. 182).
IMPRESSIONIST & MODERN ART
14 7/8 x 12 in. (37.8 x 30.4 cm.)
C. Zervos, "Projets de Picasso pour un monument" in Cahiers d'art, 1929, nos. 8-9, pp. 342-353 (full sketchbook; the present work illustrated, p. 351).
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1955, vol. 7, no. 203 (illustrated, pl. 79).
A. and M. Glimcher, eds., Je suis le cahier: The Sketchbooks of Picasso, New York, 1986, Catalogue raisonné, p. 327, no. 96 (full sketchbook).
E. Cowling and J. Golding, Picasso: Sculptor/Painter, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London, 1994, pp. 265-266, no. 64 (illustrated, p. 84).
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture: Toward Surrealism, 1925-1929, San Francisco, 1996, p. 151, no. 28-144 (illustrated; titled Figure).
M. Tabart, González/Picasso, dialogue: collections du Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, et du Musée Picasso, Paris, 1999, p. 110 (illustrated).
Estate of the artist.
Marina Picasso (by descent from the above).
Jan Krugier, acquired from the above.