This painting dates to one of the most productive and inventive periods of Pablo Picasso’s career, a summer stay in the town of Horta de Ebro (now Horta de San Juan) in Spain, which lasted, with minor interruptions, from May to September of 1909. During these months, Picasso produced a series of landscapes, heads, and still lifes that are among the most highly acclaimed achievements of early Cubism. Picasso’s companion, Fernande Olivier, was the model for the series of heads that the artist produced at this time. In this painting, the contrast between the naturalistic still life in the background and the boldly faceted figure in the foreground illustrates an important stage in Picasso’s evolution at the time. A series of still lifes by Picasso that were inspired by the art of Paul Cezanne preceded Picasso’s powerful probing into the nature of solid form, which is exemplified here by the treatment of the head. By vigorously modeling the form in a manner that blatantly disregards the rules of illusionistic painting, Picasso conveyed information about the subject’s underlying structure, about its development in the round (Olivier’s bun, for example, which would normally not be visible from the front, is brought into full view), and a remarkably tactile sense of its projections and recessions. Not surprisingly, these highly sculptural portraits led Picasso to turn, as he did intermittently throughout his career, to actual sculpture upon his return to Paris in the autumn of 1909. The result was the head of Fernande Olivier, an early bronze cast of which is in the Art Institute. In this sculpture, Picasso combined the faceting of the face seen in our painting with the scalloped treatment of the hair found in a drawing from this same period, which is also in the collection of the Art Institute. The artist then energized the head through a dynamic torsion of the neck, replacing the relaxed, fleshy folds in the painting with an emphasis on the taut curve of the back of the neck, as the head bends and twists in space. Although Cubism was to exert an enormous influence on the move toward abstraction among many artists in the early part of this century, Fernande Olivier reminds us that Cubism itself was firmly rooted in an intense study of material reality. This painting was once in the famed collection of expatriates Leo and Gertrude Stein in Paris, and can in fact be seen hanging on the wall of Gertrude Stein’s study in a photograph of 1914-15.
—Entry, Margherita Andreotti, Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2, The Joseph Winterbotham Collection at The Art Institute of Chicago (1994), p. 138-139.
Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.
Frank Elgar and Robert Maillard, Picasso (Paris: Fernand Hazan, 1955), n.p. (ill.).
Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), p. 357.
Edward Barry, “A Legacy that Grows—Winterbotham Collection,” The Chicago Tribune (August 25, 1963), p. F4, as Head of a Woman.
Edward Burns, ed., Gertrude Stein on Picasso (New York: Liveright, 1970), pp. 37, (ill.), 80 (ill.), 135 (ill.), as Woman with Mirror.
Franco Russoli and Fiorella Minervino, L’opera completa di Picasso cubista (Milan: Rizzoli, 1972), p. 101, no. 283 (ill.).
Franz Mosele, Die kubistische Bildsprache von Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso und Juan Gris unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Entwicklung der Farbe (Zurich: Juris Druck, 1973), pp. 129 and 282, as Die Frau mit dem Spiegel.
Leo Steinberg, Resisting Cézanne: Picasso’s ‘Three Women’,” Art in America 66:6 (November–December 1978), pp. 128 and 133, fig. 22, as Woman with Mirror.
Pierre Daix and Joan Rosselet, Le Cubisme de Picasso: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint 1907-1916 (Neuchâtel: Ides et Calendes, 1979), p. 244, no. 287 (ill.), as Head and Shoulders of a Woman (Fernande).
A. James Speyer and Courtney Graham Donnell, Twentieth Century European Painting (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 63, no. 3D1.
Art Institute of Chicago, The Joseph Winterbotham Collection: A Living Tradition (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1986), pp. 11, 33 (ill.), and 59, as Head of a Woman, 1909.
Josep Palau i Fabre, Picasso Cubism (1907–1917) (Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafa, 1990), p. 141, no. 405 (ill.), as Bust of a Woman with Mirror.
Dorothy Kosinski, “G.F. Reber: Collector of Cubism,” Burlington Magazine 133:1061 (August 1991), p. 531, as Bust of Fernande.
John Richardson, A Life of Picasso: Volume I 1881–1906 (New York: Random House, 1991), pp. 309-311.
Joan Perucho, Picasso, El Cubisme: I Horta de Sant Joan (Barcelona: Columna, 1993), pp. 130 (ill.), 152, no. 93, as Bust de dona amb un mirall darrera.
James N. Wood, Treasures of 19th and 20thCentury Painting: The Art Institute of Chicago (New York: Abbeville Press, 1993), p. 197 (ill.).
Simon Wilson, Picasso: Sculptor/Painter, A Brief Guide (London: Tate Gallery, 1994), pp. 11 and 76, cat. 16.
“Conquest of Space,” Tate: The Art Magazine 2 (Spring 1994), p. 34 (ill.).
Anne Baldassari, Picasso: Photographe 1901–1916, exh. cat. (Paris: Editions de la Réunion de
musées nationaux, 1994), p. 182, fig. 133.
John Richardson, A Life Of Picasso: Volume II 1907–1917 (New York: Random House, 1996), pp. 134, 142, and 454, note 11, as Head and Shoulders of a Woman (Fernande).
Phyllis Tuchman, “Art Review: Picasso: Sculptor/Painter, A Sweeping Look at Picasso,” New York Newsday (May 3, 1994) (ill.), as Head and Shoulders of a Woman (Fernande).
Loving Picasso: The Private Journal of Fernande Olivier, trans. by Christine Baker and Michael Raeburn (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001), p. 245 (ill.).
Arthur I. Miller, Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time, and the Beauty That Causes Havoc (New York: Basic Books, 2001), p. 153, fig. 5.17.
Andrea Pophanken and Felix Billeter, Die Moderne und ihre Sammler: französische Kunst in deutschem Privatbesitz vom Kaiserreich zur Weimarer Republik (Berlin, Akademie Verlag, 2001), p. 401, no. 32, as Buste de femme (Fernande), 1909.
National Gallery of Art, Picasso: The Cubist Portraits of Fernande Olivier, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2003), cat. 28, pp. 72 (ill.) 97, fig. 54 (ill. in studio photo) and 101, fig. 58 (ill. in studio photo).
Michael Fitzgerald and Julia May Boddewyn, Picasso and American Art, exh. cat. (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 2006), pp. 338, 355, and 362.
The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde, exh. cat. (San Francisco: Museum of Modern Art, 2011), cat. 258, pp. 280 (pl. 228), 318, 372 (ill.).
New York, Demotte Inc., Pablo R. Picasso, Dec. 1931, cat. 16, as Portrait de femme.
London, The Zwemmer Gallery, Chirico, Picasso, June 1937, cat. 21, as La Femme au Miroir.
Arts Club of Chicago, Origins of Modern Art, Apr. 2–30, 1940, cat. 70, as Portrait of a Woman.
Decatur, Ill., Art Center, Masterpieces of European and American Art, Mar. 4–25, 1945, cat. 13, as Women with Pears; traveled to Springfield, Ill., Springfield Art Association, Apr. 4–30, 1945.
The Art Institute of Chicago, The Winterbotham Collection, May 23–June 22, 1947, pp. 34–35 (ill.).
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, The Winterbotham Collection of 20th Century European Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, Oct. 8–Nov. 5, 1949, no cat..
Laurel, Mississippi, Lauren Rogers Library and Museum of Art, Laurel Art Season, 2nd Half Jan.–Apr. 1951.
The Art Institute of Chicago, Gallery of Art Interpretation: Presenting the Art Institute’s Picassos, Sept.–Dec. 1955, no cat.
Chicago, Joseph Faulkner Main Street Galleries, Cubism 1907-1930, Oct. 13–Nov. 9, 1959, cat. 9.
Toledo Museum of Art, What is Modern Art?, Mar. 6–27, 1960, cat. 12, as Woman with a Mirror.
The Art Institute of Chicago, Picasso in Chicago, Febr. 3–Mar. 31, 1968, pp. 19 and 113, cat. 12 (ill.).
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Four Americans in Paris: The Collection of Gertrude Stein and her Family, Dec. 19, 1970–Mar. 1, 1971, p. 171 (ill.), as Woman with a Mirror.
Tokyo, National Museum of Modern Art, Picasso: Masterpieces from Marina Picasso Collection and from Museums in USA and USSR, Apr. 2–May 29, 1983, pp. 66 (ill.), 201, cat. 49; traveled to Kyoto, Municipal Museum, June 10–July 24, 1983.
London, Tate Gallery, Picasso: Sculptor/Painter, Feb. 16–May 8, 1994, pp. 54 (ill.), 257, cat. 16, as Head and Shoulders of a Woman (Fernande).
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Picasso: The Cubist Portraits of Fernande Olivier, Oct. 1, 2003–Jan. 18, 2004, cat. 28, pp. 72 (ill.) 97, fig. 54 (ill. in studio photo) and 101, fig. 58 (ill. in studio photo); traveled to the Nasher Sculpture Center. Dallas, February 15–May 9, 2004.
San Francisco, Museum of Modern Art, The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde, May 21–Sept. 6, 2011, cat. 258; Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Oct. 3, 2011–Jan. 16, 2012; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Feb. 21–June 3, 2012.
The artist; Leo (1872–1947) and Gertrude Stein (1874–1946), Paris, 1909 [Daix and Rosselet 1979; Richardson 1996]; Gertrude Stein, Paris by c. 1914–1915 [Photograph of Gertrude Stein’s studio, c. 1914–15; original in Baltimore Museum of Art, Cone Archives]; sold to Dr. Gottlieb Friedrich von Reber (1880–1959), Lausanne, by 1926–at least 1932 [Einstein 1926; Kosinski 1991; Zervos 1932]. René Gaffé (1887–1968), Brussels, by 1937 [Daix and Rosselet 1979]. Valentine Dudensing Gallery, New York, by 1940; sold to the Art Institute, 1940 [receipt in curatorial file].
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