TÊTE DE FEMME (FRANÇOISE)

Pablo Picasso
TÊTE DE FEMME (FRANÇOISE)
mixed media
January 9, 1945

An original Pablo Picasso mixed media print.

January 9, 1945

Original etching, drypoint and aquatint printed in black ink on wove paper bearing the “ARCHES” watermark

Dated in the plate upper right “9 Janvier / 45” (in reverse).

A superb impression of Baer’s fifth and final state, printed after the beveling of the edges and steelfacing of the plate, from the edition of 110 issued as the frontispiece in the book Cinque Sonnets de Pétrarque, published by A La Fountaine de Vaucluse, Paris, 1947; printed by Roger Lacourière, Paris.

Catalog: Bloch 370; Baer 698.V.B; Cramer 47.

5 7/16 x 4 5/8 inches

Sheet Size: 12 x 9 7/8 inches

The Italian poet, scholar and early humanist Francesco Petrarch saw Laura, his muse, for the first time in 1327 in the Church of St. Claire in Avignon. Some ten years later he was to express his love for Laura in song, and to morn her untimely death in the sonnets of the Canzoniere, which he wrote at the Fountain of Vaucluse near Avignon. The book in which this Picasso etching was issued in 1947, includes five of the sonnets from the Canzoniere. They are translated very freely into French by a translator who wished to remain anonymous but was easily identifiable by certain “clues” to be found in the book’s epigraph, introduction, and proverbs at the end of each copy. In fact, the translator was Louis Aragon, and this was his homage to Elsa Triolet, a Russian he had met in 1928 after a suicide attempt, and who changed his life significantly. In the dedicatory eprigraph (“They said Laura was somebody ELSE”), the fact that the last word is printed in capital letters makes it possible to form an equation between Laura and Else, or Laure and Elsa. At the end of the “Explications du traducteur”, in which there are frequent plays on the name Laura, Aragon writes “. . . Laura, who in the language of my own heart, bears not the sweet name of the Vauclusian air, but of another, far-off breeze, coming from the Orient, where the night broke into day to rhyme the fire of the wheat with the gold of the colza.” Picasso’s etching for the book is of a beautiful oval face surrounded by flowing hair. This could easily be an idealized portrait of Laura/Elsa who, by January 1945 bore – in Picasso’s eyes – the features of Françoise Gilot.

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