Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Western art

View More:


Nude in a rocking chair



Pablo Picasso

Spain, France

25 Oct 1881 - 08 Apr 1973


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.


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

Signature & date

Signed u.r., black oil "Picasso". Dated c. verso canvas, black oil "26.3./ 56.".


Purchased 1981


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Pablo Picasso

Works in the collection


Shown in 17 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, Paris/France, No 07147 [label verso]

Theodor Ahrenberg, Stockholm/Sweden, by 1960. 'Living with Matisse, Picasso, and Christo. Theodor Ahrenberg and his collections' page 138, B&W photo of painting hanging in Ahrenberg's home 1960

Kronofogdemyndigheten, Stockholm/Sweden, Enforcement Authority, by 1963. Ahrenberg was prosecuted for tax evasion and his art collection confiscated and sold in a series of auctions beginning in 1963

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 26 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.). 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.). 115

Edmund Capon AM, OBE 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.

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

Renée Free, AGNSW Collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg.108-172, Sydney, 1994, 169 (colour illus.).

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

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.

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, 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.). 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

Monte Packham, Living with Matisse, Picasso, and Christo. Theodor Ahrenberg and his collections, 'Picasso', pg.136-53, London, 2018, 136 (colour illus.), 138 (illus.).

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