Buste de Femme, 1942

Dated April 23, 1942, Buste de Femme is a pencil on paper study for an oil painting that Picasso completed the very same day, Femme Assise dans un Fauteuil. Rendered in angular planes, both depict a seated female figure that is most likely a portrait of Dora Maar, Picasso’s mistress at the time.

Picasso uses drawing to its fullest extent in this strong and forceful portrait. The planes of the face and the body are delineated with confident strokes and shaded with rapidly made marks, giving energy and well as volume to the form. The area of most detail in the composition is within the face. The features are drawn from multiple viewpoints, simultaneously frontal and in profile, adding to the energy and verve of Picasso’s subject.

The portrait’s most noticeable trait (and one immediately identifiable in the related painting) is the dramatic wide-brimmed hat worn by the sitter, the form to which Picasso relates all other areas in the composition. The elongated geometry of the hat, horizontal in axis, is rotated ninety degrees and modified to create the sharply vertical and triangular plane of the hair. Another triangle, a darkly shaded plane in diagonal, rakes the line of the jaw, while an even smaller triangle creates the eye in profile. To balance the repetition of triangles and strong diagonals in the hat and the head, Picasso chooses softer forms to describe the upper torso. The shoulders are more gently rounded and the breasts defined by lighter marks and shading.

The drawing is also notable for its scale and proportion of the figure to the sheet. The sharp planes all but brace against the edges of the paper, creating dynamism and tension within the composition. Buste de Femme presents an opportunity to both experience Picasso’s process in arranging forms and planes in preparation for a major painting and to appreciate the force and vigor with which the artist made his works on paper.

Pablo Picasso 1881–1973

Pablo Picasso was born in Spain in 1881. From an early age, Picasso displayed a genius for drawing. His father trained him in both drawing and sculpture, and Picasso’s first exhibition occurred when he was just 13. In 1895, Picasso enrolled in the La Llotja Art School in Barcelona where he found success as an academic painter; his painting Science and Charity was awarded an honorable mention in 1897.

Picasso traveled to Paris in 1900 and the following year he began creating somber paintings in shades of blue, a time referred to as his Blue Period. In 1904 he officially moved to Paris and his color palette moved to warmer colors and subjects, and this time is now known as his Rose Period. In 1908, together with fellow artist Georges Braque, Picasso began to experiment with creating geometrically fragmented works in a style known as “Cubism.” Picasso continued in this genre until 1919, often incorporating paper collages into his cubist works. In 1939, Picasso had his first major retrospective, Picasso: Forty Years of his Art, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. When the Nazis occupied Paris in 1940, Picasso switched to writing and poetry. After the war he began to create three dimensional works, notably designing and donating the Chicago Picasso to the City of Chicago in 1967. He died in 1973.

Auction Results Pablo Picasso

PABLO PICASSO, Buste de Femme | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Buste de Femme
estimate: $700,000–900,000
result: $746,500

PABLO PICASSO, Le Peintre et Son Modèle I | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Le Peintre et Son Modèle I
estimate: $250,000–350,000
result: $446,500

PABLO PICASSO, Nature Morte au Gramophone | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Nature Morte au Gramophone
estimate: $200,000–300,000
result: $242,500

PABLO PICASSO, Homme et Vieille Femme V | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Homme et Vieille Femme V
estimate: $100,000–150,000
result: $146,500

PABLO PICASSO, Grande Tête de Femme au Chapeau | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Grande Tête de Femme au Chapeau
estimate: $80,000–120,000
result: $80,500

PABLO PICASSO, Tête en forme d'horloge | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Tête en forme d'horloge
estimate: $60,000–80,000
result: $75,000

PABLO PICASSO, Tête de Femme I | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Tête de Femme I
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $42,500

PABLO PICASSO, Picador et taureau | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Picador et taureau
estimate: $30,000–50,000
result: $38,750

PABLO PICASSO, Picador et Taureau | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Picador et Taureau
estimate: $30,000–50,000
result: $32,500

PABLO PICASSO, Tête de Femme IV | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Tête de Femme IV
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $32,500

PABLO PICASSO, Jacqueline at the Easel plate | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Jacqueline at the Easel plate
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $32,500

PABLO PICASSO, Footballeur | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Footballeur
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $26,250

PABLO PICASSO, Face in a Square dish | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Face in a Square dish
estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $23,750

PABLO PICASSO, Woman's Head with Crown of Flowers | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Woman's Head with Crown of Flowers
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $23,125

PABLO PICASSO, Jacqueline at the Easel with Faun with Square Faces plate | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Jacqueline at the Easel with Faun with Square Faces plate
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $22,500

PABLO PICASSO, Mat Owl Platter | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Mat Owl Platter
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $20,000

PABLO PICASSO AND EGIDIO CONSTANTINI, Colomba | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso and Egidio Constantini

Colomba
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $20,000

PABLO PICASSO, Three Fishes on Grey Ground | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Three Fishes on Grey Ground
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $18,750

PABLO PICASSO, Femme du Barbu pitcher | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Femme du Barbu pitcher
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $17,500

PABLO PICASSO, Owl with Spread Wings | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Owl with Spread Wings
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $17,500

PABLO PICASSO, Les Deux femmes nues | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Les Deux femmes nues
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $17,500

PABLO PICASSO, Woman's Face pendant | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Woman's Face pendant
estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $16,250

PABLO PICASSO, Grey Engraved pitcher | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Grey Engraved pitcher
estimate: $12,000–18,000
result: $15,000

PABLO PICASSO, Bright owl | Wright20.com

Pablo Picasso

Bright owl
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $13,970

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