Petit Buste de Femme (Small Bust of a Woman)
Stamped Madoura Plein Feu Empreinte Originale de Picasso
Earthenware plaque with black paint
Dimensions: 12 9/10 x 9 9/10 x 7/10" (32.8 x 25.2 x 1.8 cm)
Conceived in 1962 and produced in 1964
Pablo Picasso was one of the most talented artists of the 20th century. His experimentation spread across multiple mediums, with his work shaping and propelling modern art forward over seven decades. Living and working in his adopted country of France from his twenties onwards, Picasso challenged conceptions of form, colour and theory that reverberate to this day. The profound depth of his work has led to the periodization of his career, with individual periods covering styles from cubism to symbolism to neo-classicism.
Picasso had enjoyed critical acclaim from the 1910s onwards yet in the 1930s his work was elevated in appreciation and significance with his painting Guernica of 1937. The work, for its political as well as artistic merits, propelled Picasso to becoming a household name and in the remaining decades of his career he was celebrated as one of the world’s leading artists. His work is prominently displayed in the leading modern art museums of the world.
While his paintings have garnered the most notoriety and fame, Picasso spent his career expressing his genius through other mediums as well, such as sculpture, linocuts and ceramics. His fascination with ceramics began in the 1940s and is inextricably linked to the Madoura workshop, based in Vallauris, in the south of France. Picasso first encountered the owners of Madoura, Suzanne and Georges Ramié, in 1946, beginning a collaboration that would last over 25 years. The works produced by the workshop from Picasso’s designs ranged from vases, sculptures, pots to dinner services.
It was through Madoura that Picasso was introduced to Hidalgo Arnéra, a printer and engraver who would later collaborate with the artist on his linocuts. Both artists created a system wherein Picasso would draw a design at night, when he felt most productive, which he then sent to Arnéra to be produced as a linocut in time for Picasso to review the next day. This system facilitated a quick production of linocuts, of which a selection was reproduced by the Madoura workshop into ceramics.
Pablo Picasso with Jacqueline Roque, 1957, Photo by David Douglas Duncan
The present work, Petit Buste de Femme, is a fine example of one of these linocuts reproduced as a ceramic. It depicts a bust of Picasso’s muse and second wife, Jacqueline Roque. Despite being depicted as a quarter-length bust, the figure of Jacqueline feels real and placed in a moment in time. Her black, full hair flows down her bare shoulders, as she gazes past the viewer and into the distance. Picasso effortlessly indicates texture within the background strokes, whereby he creates negative space to bring forth the female figure. The present work possesses a stamp of the Madoura workshop with the inscription ‘Empreinte Originale de Picasso’ and is numbered 53 out of 100.
Picasso and Jacqueline met at the pottery in Vallauris in 1953 and married nine years later. They were introduced by Suzanne Ramié, who was Roque’s cousin. Picasso was always inspired by the women in his life, as his friend, the photographer Brassaï noted, “[… ] he allows himself to be enslaved by a woman only to deliver himself from her in his art. For him, romantic adventures are not a goal in themselves, but rather the indispensable stimulus for his creative power” (Brassai, p. 135). This was particularly true in his relationship with Jacqueline Roque, of whom he painted more portraits than any of his other companions.
Brassai, Conversations with Picasso; trans. By Jane Marie Todd (London: 1992)
L. Donald McVinney, Picasso Linoleum Cuts (New York: 1985), illus. p. 151.
Michael Juul Holm, Picasso: Ceramics, ed. Michael Juul Holm, Helle Crenzien and irsten Degel (Louisiana: 2018)
Salvador Haro González, ‘The Weight of Tradition’ and ‘Technical Processes in Picasso’s Ceramics’ in Picasso Ceramics, exhibition catalogue (Louisiana Museum: 2018), pp. 38-43, 46-51.