Pablo Picasso

Nude Woman with Necklace


Not on display

Pablo Picasso 1881–1973
Original title
Femme nue au collier
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1135 × 1617 mm
frame: 1181 × 1663 × 62 mm
Purchased 1983

Display caption

Throughout his life, Picasso reworked the theme of the female nude. In his eighties, he revised the traditional ideal of beauty with particular violence, subjecting the body to a repeated assault in paint. Here, a reclining female figure is presented as a raw, sexualised arrangement of orifices, breasts and cumbersome limbs. ‘It’s all there’, Picasso said, ‘I try to do a nude as it is.’ The face is that of his second wife, Jacqueline Roque.

Gallery label, March 2009

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Catalogue entry

T03670 Nude Woman with Necklace 1968

Oil and oil/alkyd on canvas 44 11/16 × 63 5/8 (1135 × 1617)
Inscribed ‘Picasso’ t.l. and ‘8.10./68./1’ on reverse
Purchased from Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (Grant-in-Aid) 1983

Prov: Acquired from the artist by Galerie Louise Leiris
Exh: Picasso: exposition organisée par le comité central du parti communiste français et l'Humanité, 1973, La Courneuve, Paris, 5–9 September 1973 (III); Picasso, Musée Ingres, Montauban, June–September 1975 (17); Exposition Picasso, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tokyo, October–December 1977, Prefectural Museum, Aichi, December 1977, Cultural Centre, Fukuoka, January 1978, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, January–March 1978 (80, repr. in col.); Pablo Picasso: Das Spätwerk - Themen 1964–1972, Kunstmuseum, Basel, September–November 1981 (28, repr. in col., as ‘Nu couché’); Picasso, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, July–September 1984, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, October–December 1984 (164, repr. in col., as ‘Reclining Nude with Necklace/Nu Couché’)
Lit: Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1973, XXVII, no. 331, repr. p.126 as ‘Nu couché’; Richard Morphet, ‘A Late “Reclining Nude” by Picasso: a new acquisition for the Tate’, The Burlington Magazine, CXXVI, February 1984, pp.84–8, repr. p.84 and in col. on cover as ‘Reclining Nude with Necklace’; The Tate Gallery Illustrated Biennial Report 1982–84, 1984, repr. in col.p.55 as ‘Reclining Nude with Necklace’

Though titled ‘Nu couché’ in Zervos, this work was acquired from Galerie Louise Leiris as ‘Femme nue au collier’ and its first exhibition was under the same title. Picasso's inscription on the reverse suggests that he completed at least one other work on the same day as this (8 October), but no such work is cited in Zervos or known to Galerie Louise Leiris.

The Tate's picture was completed only three days after Picasso had executed the final work in his suite of 347 engravings often known as ‘Suite 347’, on which, alongside works in other media, he worked at Mougins from 16 March to 5 October 1968. If the supplement is included, all 347 works are reproduced in the catalogue of the exhibition Picasso 347 Engravings, Institute of Contemporary Art, March–April 1970. As Roland Penrose wrote (Picasso, His Life and Work, third edition, 1981, p.451), although Picasso:

had the expert help of the brothers Piero and Aldo Crommelynck ... they were hard put to keep pace with the speed of Picasso's output... It would be difficult to find in the history of art a more extraordinary example of perfection and mastery of drawing in old age expressed with such variety and in such abundance.

Four of the nudes in ‘Suite 347’ wear necklaces (nos.289, 314, 325 and 338). Of these, only one is reclining and none is alone like the nude in the Tate's painting. The reclining nude in no.59 (30 April) has certain points in common with that in the Tate's painting, one of which is that the bracelet on her right wrist almost reads as a necklace. Gert Schiff (letter to the compiler, 26 March 1986) draws a parallel between the image in the Tate's painting and no.6 in ‘Suite 347’, ‘where the large woman plays in the same autoerotic manner with her nipple’.

Zervos (op.cit., where all are repr., as nos.330, 331, 333, 334, 337) shows that Picasso completed at least one large oil painting of an unaccompanied reclining female nude per day from 7 to 10 October 1968 inclusive, two being completed on the 9th. Each of these five works is horizontal and of the same width, and the first canvas of 9 October is of exactly the same dimensions as the Tate's work. In all five works the body stretches across the whole canvas, with the head being located near the right edge, and each nude reclines on her left lower arm in a similar manner. Zervos reproduces (ibid. nos.321, 322) two closely-related drawings made on 9 October. ‘Nu couché’ 13 (11) October 1968 (repr. ibid., no.342) is a further oil of a reclining nude, with the same dimensions as the Tate's painting.

In a letter cited above, Gert Schiff draws attention to the similarity between the Tate's image and those of the upright reclining nudes in the oils Zervos XXVII, 35 (14 June 1967) and XXXI, 315 (10 July 1969). Morphet (loc.cit.) points out the parallels with the following horizontal oils in each of which, despite stylistic dissimilarities, an unaccompanied reclining nude, again with head to the right, rears towards the viewer while resting on her left arm: Z.XXXI, 454 (8 October 1969); Z.XXXI, 448 (2 November 1969); Z.XXXIII, 170 (7 September 1971).

Agreeing with Morphet that there remains an ambiguity in the Tate's image between an interior and a waterside location, Gert Schiff adds that drawings of February 1968 such as Z.241, 243 and 245 (each of which has the word ‘Courtisane’ in the title) makes inevitable the identification of the red shape at the right in the Tate's painting as a cushion.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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