Frieze Masters: Virgin. Muse. Heroine.London
Head of a Woman (Sara Murphy), 1923
With frame: 77 x 69.5 cm (30 1/4 x 27 3/8 in.)
Succession Pablo Picasso (inv. 08725–08742);
By inheritance to his daughter Marina Picasso;
Picasso. Opere dal 1895 al 1971 della Collezione Marina Picasso, 1981, exh. cat. Centro di Cultura di Palazzo Grassi, Venice, no. 155–64, illustrated.
Pablo Picasso: Collection de Marina Picasso, exh. cat. L’Association des musées d’art, Yomiuri Shimbun Sha, Japan, 1986–87, pp. 273–76, illustrated.
The Presence of Ingres. Important works by Ingres, Degas, Picasso, Matisse and Balthus, exh. cat. Jan Krugier Gallery, New York, 1988, p. 65, illustrated.
A. Wofsy, Picasso’s Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings & Sculpture: Neoclassicism II, 1922–1924, San Francisco, 1996, no. 23–107, illustrated p. 146.
E. Mallen, Online-Picasso-Project, no. 23:180.
Munich, Haus der Kunst; Cologne, Josef-Haubrich-Kunsthalle; Frankfurt, Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut; Zurich, Kunsthaus, Pablo Picasso. Eine Ausstellung zum hundertsten Geburtstag. Werke aus der Sammlung Marina Picasso, 1981–82, no. 138
Venice, Centro di Cultura di Palazzo Grassi, Picasso. Opere dal 1895 al 1971 della Collezione Marina Picasso, 3 May–26 July 1981, no. 155–64
Japan, L’Association des musées d’art, Yomiuri Shimbun Sha, Pablo Picasso: Collection de Marina Picasso, November 1986–October 1987
New York, Jan Krugier Gallery, The Presence of Ingres. Important works by Ingres, Degas, Picasso, Matisse and Balthus, 5 November–23 December 1988
This elegant drawing captures in strong lines the refined features of one of Picasso’s favourite muses—the beautiful and sophisticated American socialite Sara Murphy (1883–1975). A well-bred young woman from a wealthy Cincinnati family, Sara moved to Paris in 1921 with her husband Gerald, where they quickly became the centre of a celebrated circle of artists and writers that included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter, Fernand Léger and Pablo Picasso. The Murphys proved inspirational to a number of these figures—Sara and Gerald were the models for Fitzgerald’s Dick and Nicole Diver in Tender is the Night, and Sara, with whom Picasso was madly (though unrequitedly) in love, became the subject of many of the artist’s paintings and drawings created in the year 1923, when the Picasso family joined the Murphys on holiday on the French Riviera.
Among Picasso’s most celebrated works inspired by Sara Murphy are two paintings, his Woman in White in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and a closely related canvas now in the collection of the Kunstmuseum in Bern, as well as a number of superb drawings. Several of these fine pen and ink drawings, including the present example, were in the collection of the artist’s daughter, Marina Picasso, while other smaller and more intensely worked sheets are in private collections. Bold in its linearity and neoclassical in its austere eschewal of all but the most essential elements of Sara’s visage, Picasso’s personal and sensitive line drawing elevates its poised and confident protagonist to the loftiest realms of ideal classical beauty.
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