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.
Collection highlights tour Nude in a rocking chair
Femme nue à la chaise à bascule Mujer desnuda en una mecedora Nu à la chaise à bascule Femme nue au fauteuil à bascule
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.".
© Pablo Picasso/Succession Pablo Picasso. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
Shown in 15 exhibitions
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:
- The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, United States of America 30 Oct 1975–04 Jan 1976
- The Sarah Campbell Blafter Gallery, Houston, Texas 17 Jan 1976–07 Mar 1976
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco 19 Mar 1976–04 May 1976
Picasso: aus dem Museum of Modern Art New York und Schweizer Sammlungen, Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, 15 Jun 1976–12 Sep 1976
- Fundación Juan March, Madrid Sep 1977–Nov 1977
- National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne 28 Jul 1984–23 Sep 1984
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 10 Oct 1984–02 Dec 1984
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, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Apr 2015–25 Oct 2015
Modernists: Selections from the European Collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 07 Nov 2015–10 Jul 2016
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.
Referenced in 25 publications
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.). cat.no. 6
Yves-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.). cat.no. 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', Sydney, 05 Jan 2004, 12 (illus.).
Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'European', pg. 36-56, Sydney, 1988, 53, 54 (colour illus.), 55.
Renée Free, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, 'European Art', pg. 27-36, Sydney, 1981, cover (colour illus.), 32 (colour illus.). cat.no. 3
Renée Free, AGNSW Collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg.108-172, Sydney, 1994, 169 (colour 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.
Renee Free, Art and Australia, 'European Acquisitions: 1972-83', pg. 63-67, Sydney, Spring 1984, 67.
Fundación Juan March, Picasso, Madrid, 1977, (colour illus.). cat.no. 24, titled 'Mujer desnuda en una mecedora'
Galerie Beyeler, Ausstellung "Summertime", Basel, 1970. cat.no. 52, titled 'Femme nue au fauteuil à bascule'
Galerie Beyeler, Ausstellung "Artistes espagnols", Basel, 1969. cat.no. 44
Klaus Gallwitz, Picasso at 90: the late work, London, 1971, 84 (colour illus.). cat.no. 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. cat.no. 19
Terence Maloon, Look, 'Picasso at La Californie', pg.24-27, Sydney, 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.). cat.no. 16
Patrick McCaughey and Judith Ryan (Editors), Picasso, 'Late Picasso', pg.153-178, Melbourne, 1984, 168 (colour illus.), 236. cat.no. 158
Musée National d' Art Moderne, Paris, Le dernier Picasso 1953-1973, Paris, 1988, 161 (colour illus.). cat.no. 8
Museu Picasso, Exposició Picasso = exposición Picasso, Barcelona, 1977. cat.no. 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.). cat.no. 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