Portrait de Famille V (Quatre Personnages)
Portrait de Famille V (Quatre Personnages) (Bloch 1032)

1962 (July 6)

Lithograph printed on Arches wove with Arches watermark
Artist's proof outside the edition of 50
Signed by the artist in blue crayon, lower right
Annotated "Epreuve d'artist" in pencil, lower left
Printed by Mourlot 
Published by Galerie Louise Leiris
Image: 18 x 23 1/4 inches
Sheet: 22 3/8 x 30 inches
Framed:  31 9/16 x 38 9/16 inches
(Bloch 1032) (Mourlot 387) (Reuße 836)

This is the last in a series of five lithographs that Picasso made in summer 1962 after a drawing by the French artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867). Picasso was a great admirer of Ingres, whose work he would have encountered in the Louvre in Paris from the time of his first visits to the city in the early years of the twentieth century. Known as the academic artist par excellence, Ingres appealed to Picasso for his classicism, based on the observation and copying of antiquities and ancient masters that the adolescent Picasso had been taught at the Spanish art schools he had attended in the 1890s. Indeed an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Ingres at the Salon d’Automne in 1905 was said to have overwhelmed the young Spaniard with envy for the ‘linear mastery of Ingres’s drawings’.i At the time, Ingres was praised for legitimizing his revolutionary efforts in composition through his seamless blend with tradition; as Picasso looked beyond his classical heritage and worked at formal simplification over the subsequent years, he never forgot the academic training that underpins even his most abstracted and formally deconstructed images. Indeed at the time of his Cubist inventions in 1910-11, photographs taken in his Paris studio show a large reproduction of Ingres’s most famous painting, La Grande Odalisque 1814 (Louvre Museum, Paris) attached to the wall. Picasso shared with the older artist—whom he always referred to as Monsieur Ingres—two enduring central themes: the female nude and the portrait. Portraiture had constituted the subject of Picasso’s first solo exhibition in Barcelona; in 1911 in Paris another major exhibition of Ingres’s work included nearly 120 of his exquisitely drawn portraits which seem to have fired the younger artist’s imagination, pushing him to new levels of experimentation with linear reduction in classical representation, producing numerous elegantly simplified portraits of his friends drawn with Ingres’s sensual, delicate and sinuous line.

 

The nineteenth century master’s influence on Picasso continued throughout the 1920s—during his neo-classical phase—and into the 1930s, when the figure of Marie-Thérèse Walter (1909-77) inspired a return to a focus on the nude. However, Ingres then disappeared as a visible influence on Picasso until summer 1962, when he created this group of family portraits after a drawing by Ingres which he would have known well from memory as it hung in the Louvre: The Forestier Family of 1806, showing Ingres’s fiancée Julie Forestier, with both her parents, an uncle and the family maid. It is one of the best known of the graphic portraits by Ingres in the Louvre collection for the delicacy of the drawing and the placement of the figures in the composition. Ingres drew the family portrait when he had to leave his fiancée in Paris and spend four years at the French Academy in Rome (the Villa Medici) after winning the Prix de Rome in 1801. Once he had left, the pair decided to separate and Julie returned the drawing to the artist, who copied it. Ingres married Madeleine Chapelle, a young milliner, in 1813.

 

By 1962 when Picasso created this series of lithographs, he was eighty years old and living in relative isolation from the Paris art world in a villa in the hills above Cannes with his young wife Jacqueline Roque (1927-1986) whom he had married the previous year. No longer considered an innovator in art, as new fashions had taken central stage he had entered his ‘old master phase’, looking to the art of past masters for his motifs. As he contemplated his own complex and extended family group, he perhaps re-identified himself with one of his oldest artistic mentors and sources of inspiration: Monsieur Ingres. However, Picasso’s reference to the older artist’s work is far from straightforward. The four figures in this print have been radically repositioned in relation to Ingres’s original to suggest a very different narrative. Whereas Ingres’s drawing logically places his fiancée in the centre of the image, where she stands, flanked by her seated parents on either side, Picasso has positioned the older couple centrally from where they look forward directly at the viewer. The young woman in his lithograph stands at the left side of the image looking over her parents’ heads at a young man who returns her gaze—albeit with a somewhat arrogant expression—from the other side. This oppositional placement is a common tactic in Picasso’s prints, with great dynamic effect, suggesting a narrative that is hidden from the viewer, a subtext to the otherwise apparently innocent family portrait. The figures are delineated with the sparest of line—almost a scribble—that nonetheless succeeds admirably in describing the essential detail: the facial expressions of the four characters, which subversively transform Ingres’s earnest image into a social satire. Viewed in profile, the young woman appears wistful but gormless, as is suggested by her receding chin and small head. In contrast, the young man’s outthrust jaw, prominent chin and frowning eye evoke a man of determination. And staring through small round glasses, the seated maternal figure has a sternness altogether lacking from her husband’s more placid face.

 

Family Portrait V (Quatre personnages) was created on July 6th 1962. The lithograph was printed on Arches wove with Arches watermark by Fernand Mourlot in his Paris workshop in an edition of fifty and published by Galerie Simon (Kahnweiler) in Paris. This impression is an additional artist’s proof printed by Mourlot at the same time. It is signed at the lower right, in blue crayon, and annotated ‘épreuve d'artiste’ at the lower left.

 

 

i John Richardson, A Life of Picasso, Volume I: 1881-1906, p.421.