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An image of Nude in a rocking chair by Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso

(Spain, France 25 Oct 1881 – 08 Apr 1973)

Nude in a rocking chair
Alternative title:
Femme nue à la chaise à bascule Mujer desnuda en una mecedora Nu à la chaise à bascule Femme nue au fauteuil à bascule
Media category
Materials used
oil on canvas

196.0 x 130.8 cm stretcher; 213.0 x 147.5 x 8.0 cm frame 43.5 kg in frame

Signature & date
Signed u.r., black oil "Picasso". Dated c. verso canvas, black oil "26.3./ 56.".
Purchased 1981
Accession number
© Pablo Picasso/Succession Pablo Picasso. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
Modern gallery
Further information

By the time he painted this faceless female figure, Picasso was a towering legend of modern art. Yet to say she is faceless is not entirely accurate: across her torso, breasts, belly and pudenda the painter has inscribed the disconcerting semblance of his own features. Her nipples are the tell-tale black pupils of his eyes, her serrated vagina is his equally aggressive mouth. Having thus invaded her body, his own erupts in the manner of a physiological mutation. It is not an easy image, but it is wholly truthful to Picasso's deepest intuitions and experience. Anger belies the innocuousness of the subject matter. Fear underscores the anger. It is only very marginally a work of art about appearances. Instead, Picasso enacts a form of black magic, an exorcising ritual of bodily destruction and psychic derangement that plays fast and loose with reality - all within the conventions of the seated portrait. That he did this through the agency of his last great love, Jacqueline Roque, setting her violated form in the serenity of his new villa at Cannes, is admirable and repulsive in equal measure. The gesticulating palm tree may well allude to Matisse, whose recent death reminded Picasso of the inescapability of mortality.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1999.

Provenance (5)

Theodor Ahrenberg, Stockholm/Sweden, dates unknown

Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, Paris/France, dates unknown

Kronofogdemyndigheten, Stockholm/Sweden, dates unknown

Galerie Beyeler, Feb 1968-1976, Basel/Switzerland

Private Collection, 1976-May 1981, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW 1981. Collector wishes to remain anonymous.

Bibliography (25)

Marie-Laure Bernadac, Late Picasso: paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints 1953-1972, 'Picasso 1953-1972: painting as model', pg.49-94, London, 1988, 58, 158 (colour illus.). 6

Yve-Alain Bois, Matisse and Picasso, 'Introduction: four angles', pg.10-23, Paris, 1998, 17, 20, 236, 237 (colour illus.). plate no. 229, 'Woman in a rocking chair'

Valeriano Bozal, Picasso: indoor and outdoor landscapes, 'Making a landscape out of the body', pg.7-12, Madrid, 1999, cover (colour illus.), 11, 17, 141 (colour illus.), 273 (illus.). 115

Edmund Capon and Jan Meek (Editors), Portrait of a Gallery, 'European 20th Century Art', pg. 91-95, Sydney, 1984, 92 (colour illus.), 93.

Jane Fraser, The Australian, 'Immortal in imagination', Surry Hills, 05 Jan 2004, 12 (illus.).

Renee Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales collection series 4, 'Pablo Picasso 1891-1973: Nude in a rocking chair. 1956', pg. 13-16, Sydney, Winter 1983, 13 (illus.), 14.

Renée Free, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg.108-172, Sydney, 1994, 169 (colour illus.).

Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'European', pg. 36-56, Sydney, 1988, 53, 54 (colour illus.), 55.

Renee Free, Art and Australia, 'European Acquisitions: 1972-83', pg. 63-67, Sydney, Spring 1984, 67.

Renée Free, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, 'European Art', pg. 27-36, Sydney, 1981, cover (colour illus.), 32 (colour illus.). 3

Fundación Juan March, Picasso, Madrid, 1977, (colour illus.). 24, titled 'Mujer desnuda en una mecedora'

Galerie Beyeler, Ausstellung "Artistes espagnols", Basel, 1969. 44

Galerie Beyeler, Ausstellung "Summertime", Basel, 1970. 52, titled 'Femme nue au fauteuil à bascule'

Klaus Gallwitz, Picasso at 90: the late work, London, 1971, 84 (colour illus.). 113

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, cover (colour illus.), 65 (colour illus.).

Paloma Esteban Leal, Picasso: las grandes series, 'Las grandes series: el artista frente al proceso de creación', pg.19-98, Madrid, 2001, 57, 233 (colour illus.), 374 (illus.), 545. 19

Terence Maloon, Look, 'Picasso at La Californie', pg.24-27, Newtown, Oct 2002, 25-27, 26 (colour illus.).

Terence Maloon (Curator), Picasso: the last decades, 'Foreward', pg.11-12, Sydney, 2002, 11-12, 18, 48, 53, 93 (colour illus.). 16

Patrick McCaughey and Judith Ryan (Editors), Picasso, 'Late Picasso', pg.153-178, Melbourne, 1984, 168 (colour illus.), 236. 158

Musée National d' Art Moderne, Paris, Le dernier Picasso 1953-1973, Paris, 1988, 161 (colour illus.). 8

Museu Picasso, Exposició Picasso = exposición Picasso, Barcelona, 1977. 28

William Rubin, Picasso in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1972, 180, 245 (illus.). fig. 176, illustrated in reference to 'Woman by a window' 1956

Agathe Straumann (Editor), Picasso: aus dem Museum of Modern Art New York und Schweizer Sammlungen, Basel, 1976, 158, 159 (illus.). 80

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Picasso, Braque, Léger: masterpieces from Swiss collections, Minneapolis, 1975.

Christian Zervos, Picasso oeuvres de 1956 a 1957, Paris, 1957. XVI, 55

Exhibition history (14)

Ausstellung "Artistes espagnols", Galerie Beyeler, Switzerland, May 1969–Jun 1969

Ausstellung "Summertime", Galerie Beyeler, Switzerland, Jul 1970–Sep 1970

Picasso, Braque, Leger: masterpieces from Swiss collections:

Picasso: aus dem Museum of Modern Art New York und Schweizer Sammlungen, Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, 15 Jun 1976–12 Sep 1976


Exposicio Picasso, Museu Picasso, Spain, 05 Dec 1977–10 Jan 1978

Three years on: acquisitions 1978-81, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Oct 1981–01 Dec 1981

Le dernier Picasso 1953-1973, Musée National d' Art Moderne, Paris, Paris, 15 Feb 1988–16 May 1988

Late Picasso: paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints 1953-1972, Tate Britain, England, 23 Jun 1988–18 Sep 1988

Matisse and Picasso: a gentle rivalry, Kimbell Art Museum, United States of America, 02 Feb 1999–05 May 1999

Picasso: indoor and outdoor landscapes, Museu Picasso, Spain, 26 Oct 1999–30 Jan 2000

Picasso: las grandes series, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, 26 Mar 2001–18 Jun 2001

Picasso: the last decades, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 09 Nov 2002–16 Feb 2003

Matisse and the moderns, 25 Apr 2015–25 Oct 2015