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La toilette

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973). La toilette, 1906. Oil on canvas, 59 1/2 x 39 inches (151.1 x 99 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Fellows for Life Fund, 1926 (1926:9). © Succession Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

© Succession Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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© Succession Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Succession Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Pablo Picasso

Spanish, 1881-1973

La toilette, 1906

oil on canvas

support: 59 1/2 x 39 inches (151.13 x 99.06 cm); framed: 68 x 48 x 5 inches (172.72 x 121.92 x 12.7 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

Fellows for Life Fund, 1926

1926:9

More Details

Inscriptions

signature / upper left / Picasso

Provenance

collection Ambroise Vollard;
sold to John Quinn in Paris, September or October 1923;
transferred to estate upon his death on July 28, 1924;
sold to Paul Rosenberg & Co. Gallery, via Joseph Brummer, who was appointed to sell the collection, before January 23, 1926;
sold to the Albright Art Gallery, March 1926

Class

Paintings

Work Type

Oil painting

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

Audio Stop for Picasso: The Artist and His Models

A. Conger Goodyear and La toilette

Verbal Description Audio

Pablo Picasso

La Toilette

Oil on canvas, made in 1906

This painting is 5 and a half feet tall and is four feet wide. Two full female figures take up the majority of this piece. They stand next to each other.  A nude woman on the left side of the painting faces the viewer with her arms pulling her hair together atop of her head into a bun. A woman with darker hair, clothed in an ankle length long sleeve, blue dress on the right side stands in profile, facing the nude woman. The feet of both women start about 2 inches from the bottom of the canvas, the woman’s right arm working with her hair is roughly 5 inches from the top of the canvas.

The woman on the left side is painted in a peach flesh tone, the artist’s brush strokes are evident as the varied flesh tone provides shading and depth to the female form. Both figures are painted realistically and almost life size but not with hyper detail, for example the nude woman’s right breast is evident but her nipple is not defined. With both arms raised above her head and bent at the elbow, her face tilts slightly to her left and her gaze is cast downward towards a mirror. The mirror is held by the clothed woman on the right. This woman, of the same height and build wears her hair pulled behind her head and trailing down her neck. She looks straight ahead. Her left arm, which faces the viewer, is bent slightly at her waist and supports the lower left hand corner of a mirror, of which we see the back. A bright blue sash is tied around her waist. The pale blue fabric of her dress folds softly to show it is fitted but not tight and a horizontal strip of warm pink finishes the dress at her ankles. Both woman stand with their right leg a step forward and slightly bent bearing more weight than their left.

The warm peach floor of the background covers the bottom third of the painting, ending behind both women’s knees at which point the floor is met with a wall. The wall is pale blue with undertones of warm pale pink.

In 1904, Pablo Picasso moved from his home in Spain to the bohemian Paris neighborhood of Montparnasse, beginning his lifelong relationship with the French avant-garde. However, in the summer of 1906, Picasso and his female companion Fernande Olivier (French, 1881–1966) traveled back to Spain, where they stayed in the remote village of Gósol in the Pyrenees. Happy to get away from the bustle of Paris, Picasso focused on his work. At the time, the artist was engaged in what has become known as his Rose Period, during which he rendered his subjects in vivid red, orange, pink, and earthy tones. Fernande appears in numerous compositions of this era, and she served as the model for both of the women depicted in La toilette. This painting is a poignant study in contrasts. The figure on the left is nude and stands frontally as she views at herself in a mirror held by the second figure. This act of self-admiration is juxtaposed against the timid demeanor of the clothed woman on the right, who presents quietly in profile. Picasso’s dual portrait can be seen as an idealized view of the two sides of his mistress: the sensual and the modest. After three months, Picasso returned to Paris. There he became interested in a more primitive style and made a radical break from his almost naturalistic treatment of the figure in works such as La toilette—a decision that charted his path toward Cubism.

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