Fleurs, 1948


Pablo Picasso drew this beautiful sketch as part of a series of drawings and paintings by Picasso that explored the idea of distilling the human figure into its basic elements to capture the essence of the individual depicted. The still life seems to suggest a portrait of Picasso and Gilot, with the silhouette of the male and female plants facing each other in a conversant posture.

MEDIUM: Pencil on paper
DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 25.8 x 19.9 ins/65.5 x 50.5 cm
SIGNATURE: Signed ‘Picasso’ and dated (lower left)

Catalogue No: 6315 Category: Tags: ,

In 1946, Picasso painted the quintessential portrait of his then lover, Françoise Gilot, in Femme fleur en gris. The artist told Françoise, when speaking of the work, “You’re growing like a plant… I’ve never felt compelled to portray anyone else this way” (F. Gilot, Life with Picasso,New York, 1964, p. 113).
Executed just two years later, Fleurs belongs to a series of drawings and paintings by Picasso that explored the idea of distilling the human figure into its basic elements to capture the essence of the individual depicted. The engaging, anthropomorphic still life in Fleurs seems to suggest a portrait of Picasso and Gilot, with the silhouette of the male and female plants facing each other in a conversant posture. The fluid decorative line of the drawing, reduced means and simplified composition also suggest Picasso’s continuing dialogue with the artist Henri Matisse. During these post-war years, the artists lived near each other in the South of France and were intensely aware of each other’s artistic investigations and innovations.

Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris;

Private Collection, Spain (acquired from the above);

Private Collection, London;

Private Collection, United Kingdom


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C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Oeuvres de 1946 à 1953, vol. XV, Paris, 1965, no. 83, pl. 50 (illustrated);
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso’s Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. Liberation and Post-War Years, 1944-1949, San Francisco, 2000, p. 199, no. 48-017 (illustrated)

Pablo Picasso is one of the most influential artists of the 20th century and co-founder of the art movement Cubism, renowned for continually experimenting with new styles and in different mediums. Born in Malaga, Spain, in 1881, he was the son of an artist, under whom he trained before studying at the art academy in Barcelona. He then moved to study at Madrid’s Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Spain’s top art academy at the time, in 1897, beginning his artistic career. His early work comprised of mainly scenes inspired by his Catholic faith and portraits of his family members, in a traditional realist style, adhering with his training. By 1901 Picasso had abandoned this method to develop his own individual style which was later called the Blue Period.




During this time he primarily painted in shades of blue, with occasional touches of accent colour. The works are often perceived as sombre due to the subdued tones and scenes of blindness, poverty and isolation. Some attribute this period to the artist’s supposed depression following a friend’s suicide. In 1904 Picasso settled in Paris where he lived for most of his adult life. Here his painting progressed to the ‘Rose Period’, using shades of pink and rose with a warmer tonal range, also incorporating elements of primitivism, after taking inspiration from an exhibit of angular African art at the Palais de Trocadero.

Between 1907 and 1912, Picasso worked with fellow painter Georges Braque in creating the beginnings of the Cubist movement in art. They used a palette of earth tones and depicted deconstructed objects with complex geometric forms. His partner, Fernande Olivier, was the subject in many of Picasso’s Cubist works, before they seperated in 1912. From 1912 to 1919, Picasso’s work continued in the Cubist vein, but he introduced collage and the human form into some of his creations. The destructive and creative ideas of Cubism shocked, appalled but also fascinated the art world.

Between 1919 and 1929 Picasso’s art featured a significant change in style. After his first visit to Italy and the end of the First World War, his paintings reflected a restoration of order in art and his neoclassical works contrasted starkly to his Cubist paintings. However, as the French Surrealist Movement gained momentum in the mid-1920s, Picasso returned to his penchant for Primitivism in Surrealist-influenced paintings. During the 1930s, Picasso’s work reflected the violence of war time, the menacing Minotaur replaced the harlequin of his earlier years as a central symbol in his art.


Picasso remained in Paris during World War II and continued to create art. He completed more than 300 poetry works and two plays between 1939 and 1959. Paris was liberated in 1944, and Picasso began a relationship with Francoise Gilot, they had two children together, however, their relationship ended in a similar way to him many previous ones, because of his infidelities and abuse. He focused on sculpture during this era and participated in an international exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1949.

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