Pablo Picasso Artwork Details
Reference: Bloch 82 ; Baer 123.b.2,
Note 1: This is an etching, plate XII of the table of etchings, which was made to illustrate a publication of the work by Balzac. It consisted of 12 etchings by Picasso and a wood engraving by Georges Aubert after a drawing by Picasso. Le chef d’oeuvre inconnu can be considered Balzacs appreciation of artistic faith expressed in painting. His character is an old painter called Frenhofer who has worked for many years on a painting entitled “La belle Noiseuse” for over 10 years. The author explores the difficulties faced by the artist with his delights in the making of the work and attempts at perfection of the finished product. He also considers the complex relationship between the artist and his model. In Frenholders eyes the model he has painted on his canvas has become his lover. His friends, however, Porbus and the young Pouissin (both famous painters) see only confused colours. When Frenhofer realises that his friends do not understand or appreciate his work he burns his painting and kills himself. Picasso does not illustrate the actual story in his etchings but explore the deeper meanings behind this and the complex relationship between artist and model. It was Ambroise Vollard who asked Picasso to illustrate Balzac's text in 1926 and Albert Bernard, a friend of Vollard’s who wrote the preface to the book.
Note 2: The young women portrayed in this etching is certainly the artists muse and lover Marie-Therese. The depiction in the turban is similar to drawings made at the same time (see Zervos VII-45). The sculpted head resembles on in a sketchbook (02 - pages 43 and 53) which is shown in the catalalogue of the the collection of Marina Picasso(Munich 1981). THis work is dated 18th June and 8th July 1928.
Condition: In very good condition - slight fading, as always, with the signature.
Published by: Ambroise Vollard, Paris, 1931
Printed by: Louis Fort, Paris
Size: 194 x 277 mms (plate size) ; 493 x 384 mms (Paper size)