Jacqueline au Mouchoir noir
Jacqueline au Mouchoir noir (Bloch 874)

1959 (January 10)

Lithograph printed on Arches wove with Arches watermark
Artist's proof of the third (final) state, outside the edition of 50
Signed by the artist in pencil, lower left
Printed by Mourlot, 1959
Published by Galerie Louise Leiris, 1959
Image/sheet: 25 3/4 x 19 3/4 inches
Framed: 35 1/4 x 28 3/4 inches (silver)
(Bloch 874) (Mourlot 316) (Reuße 709)

Jacqueline en Profil à droite is one of a series of lithographic portraits of Picasso’s second wife, Jacqueline Roque created in 1958, to which the artist accorded great importance. He used his subject’s beautiful and exotic profile as the basis for an intensive focus on the representational possibilities of different kinds of mark-making in the lithographic process. A succession of variations in themselves, the plates were each taken through several states, resulting in a sequence of remarkable proofs. They represent an important development of the technical skills that Picasso had begun learning ten years previously with the master printer Fernand Mourlot in his Paris workshop.

 

Having relocated to the Côte d’Azur with his attractive young mistress, Françoise Gilot, in the late 1940s, Picasso met Jacqueline in summer 1952 in the Madoura pottery workshops, where she was working as a sales assistant and he was painting plates. Forty-five years Picasso’s junior, she shared his short stocky build and his large and brilliant dark eyes. By this time the artist’s relationship with Gilot was deteriorating, and Jacqueline quickly replaced her in his affections, becoming his lover, muse and eventually his wife—the last great female presence in Picasso’s life and the subject of innumerable paintings and prints produced in the 1950s and 1960s. Jacqueline first features in Picasso’s drawings in his series of the Painter and his Model, created in early 1954. Later that year, the artist began a series of canvases and lithographs based on Eugène Delacroix’s Femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement (1834, Louvre Museum, Paris), featuring an odalisque who bore an uncanny resemblance to Jacqueline. An icon of oriental subservience, her crouching pose in Delacroix’s painting evokes the submissiveness for which Jacqueline was to become known, while her long straight nose was remarkably similar in shape to Jacqueline’s. In summer 1955, Picasso and Jacqueline moved into a villa named La Californie, on the outskirts of Cannes, where the artist embarked on a series of portraits of Jacqueline. Her striking profile features repeatedly—in his prints, she is almost always portrayed viewed from the side. As with all Picasso’s love affairs, this new relationship sparked an intensive spate of innovative creativity, which in the mid-1950s led the artist to pitch himself against the great Spanish court painter of the seventeenth century, Diego Velàsquez. In summer 1957, he began working on more than forty variations of Las Meninas (1656, Prado Museum, Madrid), which occupied him to the end of the year.

 

In late November 1956, he created the first lithographic profile portrait of Jacqueline, Profil (en trois couleurs) (Bloch 826; Mourlot 288), emphasizing her large, dark, almond-shaped eyes and the patterned headscarf covering her hair. A more demure version of Jacqueline’s profile also featuring a headscarf appeared the following May—Jacqueline de profil (Bloch 833; Mourlot 294) —but it was not until December 1958 that this figure became more fully developed in Jacqueline au mouchoir noir. As in the earlier Profils from 1956 and 1957, Jacqueline is portrayed looking to the left, her hair partially covered by a headscarf. In the first portrait, linear scribbling creates volumetric shading, rendering the face three-dimensional; while in the second, the shading is limited to her bust and headscarf, leaving the face a clear, three-dimensional outline. An evolution of this through its reduction and simplification, Jacqueline au mouchoir noir is a spare and elegant diagrammatic representation of its subject, whose profile now dominates the sheet. Closer to a view from face-on rather than the side, the depiction of Jacqueline’s elongated left eye below her long, dark eyebrow is reminiscent of the schematization of bodies in ancient Egyptian and Phoenician art. Recalling the black headscarves traditionally worn by women in the Mediterranean, Jacqueline’s hair covering accentuates her exoticism as does the decorative row of black dots around the margin of the print. The area of grey that Picasso added to the left side of the final state on January 10, 1959 adds to the Orientalist theme, evoking a veil being drawn over Jacqueline’s face. Although partially covering her eye, its effect is to intensify her gaze, as though she is moving from stasis into a new space.

 

Named the second state, this version of Jacqueline au Mouchoir noir is actually the third state as the first was a drawing with lithographic crayon and ink on transfer paper transferred to zinc for which no proofs were pulled. The second and third states were both printed on Arches wove paper in signed and numbered editions of fifty. This is an unsigned proof apart from the edition of fifty.