Pablo Picasso, ‘Rembrandt Tenant Par la Main une Jeune Femme au Voile’, 31, Galerie d'Orsay

Translated title: Rembrandt Holding the Hand of a Young Woman with a Veil. Image size: 10 7/8 x 7 13/16 inches ; Sheet size: 17 1/2 x 13 5/16 inches. In excellent condition, printed on a sheet with full margins. Bloch 214; Geiser 413 B.d. A fine impression of the only state, printed after the steel facing of the plate, from the edition of 260 printed on this paper (there were a further 50 impressions printed on Montval laid paper with wider margins bearing the “Montgolfier” watermark, and three impressions printed on parchment). Plate 36 of 100 from the Suite Vollard. Published by Ambroise Vollard, Paris, 1939; printed by Roger Lacourière, Paris. The earliest reference to Rembrandt that appears in Picasso's work dates from January 27, 1934, and was the result of a technical accident. While working on an etching that later became part of the Suite Vollard, Picasso encountered problems with the etching ground. The following week Picasso's dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, recorded in his diary these words of the artist: “Imagine, I made a portrait of Rembrandt. It was another case of the cracking varnish. I had an accident with the plate and said to myself, its ruined so I'll do any old thing on it. I began to scribble and it turned into Rembrandt. I liked it so I continued. I even made a second, with his turban, his fur, and his eyes, those elephant eyes you know them. Now I'm working this plate further to get blacks like his; you don't get that in one sitting.”

In Picasso's later years the specific sources in Rembrandt's work are clearly identifiable. However, this first appearance of Rembrandt in Picasso's art is most likely a composite image of Rembrandt summoned from Picasso's deep familiarity with the old master's work.

Four days later, on January 31, Picasso made the etching described above. It juxtaposes an extravagantly rendered Rembrandt with a simply drawn classical female. It reveals a number of formal and iconographic issues of ongoing concern in Picasso's art, including the contrasting forces of baroque and classical, light and dark, male and female, and the subject of the artist and model. At the end of his career Picasso returned to all of these issues in the context of his study of Rembrandt's art.

Signature: Hand signed in pencil in the margin lower right Picasso, dated in the plate (in reverse) lower right “Paris 31 janvier XXXIX”.

Publisher: Published by Ambroise Vollard, Paris, 1939

Hans Bollinger, Picasso's Vollard Suite, Thames and Hudson, London, 1956, no. 36 (ill.); Janie Cohen, Picasso Rembrandt Picasso, Prints and Drawings by Picasso Inspired by Works of Rembrandt, Museum het Rembrandthuis, Amsterdam, 1990, no. 3, p. 17 (ill.); Picasso: Vollard Suite, The Instituto de Credito Oficial, Madrid, 1993, no. 81 (ill.). Emmanuel Benador, Picasso Printmaker: A Perpetual Metamorphosis, QCC Art Gallery, The City University of New York, Bayside, New York, 2008, p. 210 (ill.).

About Pablo Picasso

A prolific and tireless innovator of art forms, Pablo Picasso impacted the course of 20th-century art with unparalleled magnitude. Inspired by African and Iberian art and developments in the world around him, Picasso contributed significantly to a number of artistic movements, notably Cubism, Surrealism, Neoclassicism, and Expressionism. Along with Georges Braque, Picasso is best known for pioneering Cubism in an attempt to reconcile three-dimensional space with the two-dimensional picture plane, once asking, “Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?” Responding to the Spanish Civil War, he painted his most famous work, Guernica (1937), whose violent images of anguished figures rendered in grisaille made it a definitive work of anti-war art. “Painting is not made to decorate apartments,” he said. “It’s an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.” Picasso’s sizable oeuvre includes over 20,000 paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, theater sets, and costume designs.

Spanish, 1881-1973, Malaga, Spain, based in Paris and Mougins, France