Picasso, Etude (mandoline), 4 5/8 x 6 3/4in.
Lot 11
Pablo Picasso
(1881-1973)
Etude (mandoline) 4 5/8 x 6 7/8 in (11.8 x 17.5 cm)
Sold for US$ 43,750 inc. premium

Impressionist & Modern Art

17 May 2017, 17:00 EDT

New York

Lot Details
Picasso, Etude (mandoline), 4 5/8 x 6 3/4in.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Etude (mandoline)
signed 'Picasso' (lower right)
graphite on buff paper
4 5/8 x 6 7/8 in (11.8 x 17.5 cm)
Drawn in 1925

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Galerie Simon, Paris (inv. no. 547).
    Rose Fried Gallery, New York.
    Acquired from the above by the present owners circa 1958.

    Literature
    C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Oeuvres de 1923 à 1925, Paris, 1952, vol. V, p. 165, no. 403 (illustrated).
    The Picasso Project (ed.), Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture: Toward Surrealism, 1925-1929, San Francisco, 1996, p.37, no. 25-112 (illustrated).

    Etude (mandoline) was drawn in 1925, a year that marks yet another shift in Picasso's mercurial career. Having successfully mined the rich seams of his past endeavor he was ready to stake his next claim. As ever it is in drawings such as the present example that we can watch the development of his fertile mind. Picasso sense of adventure may also have had a familiar cause: his relationship with Olga had fundamentally collapsed and he was on the lookout for a mistress. He was not to meet Marie-Therèse Walter for another 18 months.

    As so often, in order to push forward Picasso stepped back to a familiar theme, in this case the still life, recalling both the Spanish Bodegón tradition and his own great Cubist still lifes with musical instruments of 1907-11. In the series of drawings of which the present work is a particularly refined example he strips back the image to its essentials, almost as if he is trying to find what it is that makes it 'work'. Elements of the mandolin shift and start to take on a life of their own. The strings begin to radiate from the central sound hole rather than lying neatly in parallel lines. The bridge becomes oriented along the top edge of the instrument as opposed to the lower edge and in time appears to morph into a set of angry needles. The treatment of lines which stand for the abbreviated elements of the instrument begin to resemble celestial constellations.

    The esoteric form which results from this development was seized on by André Breton as evidence of Picasso's Surrealist tendencies. Despite Breton's entreaties, Picasso was wary of joining anyone else's artistic movement and did not put his name to the Surrealist manifesto. Instead he took the hieratic signs that evolved from the still life drawings of 1925 and, once happily inspired by his relationship with Marie-Therèse, drew on them in the simple yet searingly-powerful works of the next phase of his evolution.
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