Pablo Picasso

Seated Nude


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Not on display

Pablo Picasso 1881–1973
Original title
Femme nue assise
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 921 x 730 mm
frame: 1199 x 1005 x 108 mm
Purchased 1949

Display caption

In the early years of cubism, Picasso constructed his images using small facets, or geometric planes, and represented objects from different viewpoints. Many critics of the period believed the artist aimed to represent reality in a new, almost scientific manner. However, as this atmospheric painting shows, Picasso could use this technique for expressive ends. Here, the woman has been all but stripped of her humanity and appears strangely mechanistic. At the same time, Picasso demonstrates his awareness of tradition in her pose and in the play of light within the picture.

Gallery label, May 2012

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Catalogue entry

Pablo Picasso 1881-1973

N05904 Femme nue assise (Seated Female Nude) 1910

Inscribed 'Picasso | 9' b.l.
Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 x 28 3/4 (92 x 73)
Purchased from the Galerie Pierre (Courtauld Fund) 1949
Prov: With Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris (purchased from the artist 1910); Frank Haviland, Céret, 1910; with Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris, 1913; Wilhelm Uhde, Paris; Uhde sale, Drouot, Paris, 30 May 1921, lot 43 repr. (18,000 frs.); Christian Tetzen Lund, Copenhagen; Tetzen Lund sale, Frie Udstilling, Copenhagen, 18-19 May 1925, lot 101 as 'Figure dans un Fauteuil'; bt. Vil. Hansen DKR. 900; Alphonse Kann, St Germain-en-Laye; with Galerie Pierre, Paris
Exh: Picasso, Galeries Georges Petit, Paris, June 1932 (61); Kunsthaus, Zurich, September-October 1932 (54); Picasso, Centro de la Construcción, Madrid, May 1936 (4, repr.); Picasso, Tate Gallery, July-September 1960 (53, repr.)
Lit: Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso (Paris 1942), Vol.2a, No.201, repr. pl.101; Douglas Cooper, 'Catalogue of the Courtauld Collection' in Burlington Magazine, XCVI, 1954, p.122; Pierre Daix and Joan Rosselet, Picasso: The Cubist Years 1907-1916 (London 1979), No.343, p.254 and repr.
Repr: Jahrbuch der jungen Kunst, III, 1922, p.121 (wrongly entitled 'Brustbild eines jungen Mannes'); Burlington Magazine, XCII, 1950, p.2; Trewin Copplestone, Modern Art Movements (London 1967), pl.10 in colour

A female figure seated in a high-backed armchair.

Though this picture is dated '9' (i.e. 1909), the original photograph in the Kahnweiler records is dated on the back 1910. According to D.-H. Kahnweiler, it was painted in the spring of 1910. The photograph in the catalogue of the Uhde sale of 1921 shows the picture without an inscription, so this was probably added later.

There is a similar but slightly taller and less finished painting in the Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris (Zervos, op. cit., No.200) which must have been painted about the same time and in which the figure is more distorted. The body is broken up into a large number of very active, crowded facets but the background is simpler and more monumental.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.595, reproduced p.595


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