Neo-Classical Painter in his Studio depicts a painter at his easel, wearing a traditional Greek fez. Facing him are two smaller-scale nude models, one male and one female, while two larger figures, a bearded man and a younger classical warrior wearing a Corinthian helmet, look on. It is impossible to say which, if any, of these personages are supposed to be ‘real’ and which are meant to be imaginary. Picasso made this etching on 27 November 1963 at Mas Notre Dame de Vie, the house in Mougins, South of France, where he and his wife Jacqueline had moved in June 1961. The edition was printed by the brothers Aldo and Piero Crommelynck, who had worked with Picasso’s erstwhile printer Roger Lacourière in Paris and moved to Mougins in 1963, eventually becoming Picasso’s main printers until his death. Three proofs were pulled from the original copper plate. The plate was then steelfaced and published in 1967 in an edition of fifteen artist’s proofs (of which this is one) plus fifty signed and numbered prints on white Rives wove paper by the Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris.

Between the end of October and early December 1963, Picasso made at least twenty prints on the subject of the artist with a model and one or more spectators. In these works the canvas is almost always shown in profile and therefore cannot be seen, so that all that is left is a confrontation between the artist and those facing him. Instead of depicting the artist’s studio as a place of contemplation and work, Picasso populated it with models, onlookers, mythical creatures and others, turning it into a social hub where no-one looked out of place.

The writer and friend of the artist Michel Leiris compared Picasso’s images of the artist’s studio to a stage, writing, ‘Picasso adds to [his] gallery of painters and models an astonishingly varied gallery of men and women, the protagonists of an erotic comedy which has many aspects, and which Picasso readily invests with the appearance of a simple masquerade illustrating the kind of play-acting that goes on between lovers, as well as the comedy of errors, to which the intrigues of seduction so often lead.’ (Leiris 1973, p.414)

Further reading
Michel Leiris, ‘The Artist and his Model’, in Roland Penrose and John Golding (eds.), Picasso 1881/1973, London 1973, pp.243-62
Brigitte Baer, Picasso the Printmaker: Graphics from the Marina Picasso Collection, exhibition catalogue, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas 1983
Giorgia Bottinelli, ‘Pablo Picasso’, in Jennifer Mundy (ed.), Cubism and its Legacy: The Gift of Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler, exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, London 2004, pp.88-90, reproduced p.102

Giorgia Bottinelli
June 2004