Femme nue assise signed 'Picasso' (lower right) pencil on paper 50.4 x 33cm (19 13/16 x 13in). Drawn on 14 June 1944
PROVENANCE Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York. Marlborough-Godard Gallery, Toronto.
LITERATURE C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Oeuvres de 1943-1944, Paris, 1962, vol. XIII, no.311 (illustrated p.150). The Picasso Project, Picasso's Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings and Sculpture. Nazi Occupation, 1940-1944, San Francisco, 1999, no.44-093 (illustrated p.350).
The subject of Femme nue assise with its wavy hair, straight nose and soft almond eyes is purported to have been influenced by Picasso's lover at the time, Françoise Gilot. In stylistic terms however, the work acknowledges a clear nod towards Matisse's unique purity of line and form in the depiction of the human figure. Throughout their prolonged acquaintance Matisse and Picasso shared a somewhat fraught creative relationship of inspiration and exchange. As Picasso remarked in his old age, ''You have got to be able to picture side by side everything Matisse and I were doing at that time. No one has ever looked at Matisse's painting more carefully than I; and no one has looked at mine more carefully than he." (Picasso quoted in P. Trachtman, 'Matisse & Picasso, Friends and rivals-throughout their lives' Smithsonian, February 2003).
As a distillation of the female form, expressed through a flowing sequences of curves, Femme nue assise is a stylised representation of Matisse's simplification of the figure through the drawn line, whilst also arguably a precursor to Matisse's own further abstraction of the female figure as witnessed in his gouache decoupées, the Blue nudes from 1952. In particular, Picasso's seated female form bares a striking resemblance to Matisse's now iconic Blue nude II (1952).