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Pablo Picasso

Trois femmes à la fontaine

oil on canvas
19,2 x 23,8 cm / 7 5/8 x 9 3/8 in.
signed lower right

The painting is part of a group of at least 18 preparatory paintings and drawings which Picasso created for one of his most important neoclassical paintings, "Trois femmes à la fontaine" of 1921 (MoMA, New York). Picasso used different media, including oil, gouache, pastel, and pencil, varying the poses as well as the background of the scene. The present work is very close to the monumental version regarding the composition, but in details, this smaller painting has a more lively "painterly" character; it is less static and more "Hellenistic" than the "archaic" larger format. Picasso created all versions in the summer of 1921, during an immensely productive sojourn at Fontainebleau with his wife Olga and their newborn son Paulo. The massive proportions, idealized features, and gently waved coiffures of the figures call to mind ancient statues of goddesses. Their faces seem as though carved from stone, the draped gowns fall in heavy pleats like Doric columns. The muted, earthy palette suggests the tones of ancient frescoes, while the triad grouping recalls classical images of the Graces or the Fates. The painting also acknowledges the neoclassical tradition of Poussin and Ingres. Provenance available

Price on request

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