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Self-Portrait with Palette

1906
Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, Spanish, 1881 - 1973
At the time he made this self-portrait, Pablo Picasso was in a phase of seeking inspiration and new ideas from the art of the remote past, including archaic Greece and the ancient and medieval heritage of his Spanish homeland. The stylized rendering of the face in this image, with large ovoid eyes and enormous black pupils, fine eyebrows, and long ears, reflects the impact of the sculpture of the ancient Iberians, a people that inhabited parts of the Spanish peninsula in pre-Roman times. This was Picasso’s first completed self-portrait in the act of painting. He wears a work shirt and holds a palette with his left hand, but the brush that should be poised near it is absent. That choice suggests that Picasso was concerned with the moment of concentrated creative thought, as communicated by tension in the body and the intensity of the gaze, rather than manual execution....

Object Details
Purchased from the artist by A. E. Gallatin (1881-1952), New York, 1929, probably in summer [1]; gift to PMA, 1950.1. As per inscription on stretcher, in pencil: "Portrait of Picasso bought from Picasso 1929 A.E.G.", and Gallatin's cataloguing card (The New-York Historical Society, Additional Papers of A. E. Gallatin, series 7, box 4, f. 1). Gallatin announced the acquisition in a Gallery of Living Art press release of October 17, 1929. See also Gail Stavitsky, The Development, Institutionalization, and Impact of the A. E. Gallatin Collection of Modern Art, Ph. D. dissertation, New York University, 1990, vol. 9, p. 212.

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