Portrait de Marie-Thérèse de Face
Portrait de Marie-Thérèse de Face (Bloch 276)

1934 (February 4, Paris)

Aquatint, etching, and drypoint printed on Montval paper with Picasso watermark
From the edition of 55 of the second (final) state (from the first edition of the second state; the later edition was printed in 1961 as part of the Caisse à remords)
Inscribed with inventory number recorded in Picasso archives in Paris lower right, in pencil: INV 18947
Marina Picasso Collection oval stamp on verso, lower right
Printed by Lacourière, 1942
Published by Galerie Louise Leiris
Plate: 12 1/2 x 8 7/8 inches
Sheet: 17 3/4 x 13 3/8 inches
Framed: 24 x 20 inches
(Bloch 276) (Baer 417.II.B)

The complexity and layering of this portrait embodies the tangled web of Picasso’s seven-year relationship with his lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, which would soon be coming to a close. It stands in stark contrast to the idealized simplicity of his first portrait of her as a young woman, Visage de Marie-Thérèse (Bloch 95), which was created six years prior. Picasso’s style changed in the intervening years, but Walter’s maturity from a schoolgirl to a young woman is also recorded here.

 

Though the image is certainly more fraught than this early example, Picasso’s love for Marie-Thérèse is apparent in this image—her eyes smile, her dainty lips beckon, and her cheeks are flush with life. Picasso was not interested in portraiture, per se, and most of his work was generated from memory. Here, we can see evidence of his working and reworking of the plate, changing orientation, perspective, and scale. He used a combination of line etching, aquatint, and drypoint to convey her youthful glow.

 

As with Profil sculptural de Marie-Thérèse (Bloch 255), this portrait bears some stylistic resemblance to Picasso’s friend and artistic rival Henri Matisse. Picasso held Matisse in high regard, and often visited his his studio incorporating innovations he found there into his own work. Their competitive friendship and mutual regard was explored in depth in the 2002 exhibition Matisse/Picasso at the Museum of Modern Art. Though Matisse limited himself to simple contours, he depicted several models in similarly seductive close-up frontal views that emphasized their eyes and full lips, such as the 1913 lithograph Face with Fringe (Visage à la frange).

 

The current impression is the second (final) state, from the first edition of 55 printed by Lacourière in 1942 using same Montval paper on which the Suite Vollard was printed (necessitated by paper shortages during WWII). A second edition was printed in 1961 and was included in the Caisse à Remords, published in 1981. Both editions were published by Galerie Louise Leiris. This impression was once in the collection of Picasso’s granddaughter, Marina Picasso, who was born in 1950 to Paulo, his first child. Her collection is characterized by unique, rare, and unusual examples of Picasso’s prints that were handed down to her through the family.i

 

i See Brigitte Baer and Stephen Nash. Picasso the Printmaker: Graphics from the Marina Picasso Collection, Dallas Museum of Art, 1983.