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4 June 2014 Sothbey's sold in Auction with contribution of Slaviart (consultant for the Serbian owner) "Nu dansant et Arlequin" (ink, graphite and coloured pencils on card 17.4x22.2 cm) of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Price 175.500 EUR.
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (acquired directly from the artist)
Private Collection, Europe
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2013.
Paris, Galerie Louise Leiris, Picasso, dessins en noir et en couleurs, 1969-1971, no. 61
Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, vol. XXXII : œuvres de 1970, Paris, 1977, no. 142, illustrated p. 55
The figure of the Harlequin, that famous character from the cast of the Comedia Dell Arte, is inseparable from Picasso's work. Though usually associated with his early output, this character reappears at the end of his life, notably in the guise of a musketeer. While the harlequins from the Blue and Rose period evoke melancholy, this Nu dansant et arlequin on the contrary represents a veritable ode to life. The optimism that emanates from this drawing is all the more remarkable when compared with the solitude and isolation of the Master at the end of his life. Having retreated to his property at Mougins, the artist rarely went out and worked rapidly, producing a huge output. "Accumulation and speed are the only means of defense that remained available to him in his merciless fight against time. Each work he created was a part of himself, a piece of his life, a point gained against death" (Marie-Laure Bernadac, Picasso, La Monographie 1881-1973, Paris, 2000, p. 464).
From a series of works depicting a nude dancer opposite a Harlequin, this version owes its charm to the evocation of movement through the dynamic attitude of this young dancer, emphasised by the meditative pose of the figure on the right. Dynamism is also achieved through the use of hatching and the particularly bright palette, notably on the harlequin's costume.
As Marie-Laure Bernadac notes, "Picasso lived right til the end, loved right til the end, created right til the end, providing the best example of a return to "childhood" in art, to the moment when everything is always beginning." (Marie-Laure Bernadac, op cit, p. 478). The coloured pencils technique employed by Picasso also evokes the world of childhood. In this work Picasso demonstrates that even in his twilight years, the artist had not lost his formidably inventive spirit or any of his imagination.