Woman with Tambourine

Femme au tambourin

Following his Neo-Classical period in the mid 1920s, Picasso returned for a while to his experiments into a form of decorative Cubism. This painting represents a reclining woman leaning on her elbow and holding a tambourine. The shimmering colours are central to this composition. The languid woman on the cushions is reminiscent of the odalisques that Henri Matisse was producing at this time, two beautiful examples of which are in the Musée de l’Orangerie. But besides the theme of the odalisque and his use of colour, Picasso’s unusual treatment of the woman with the tambourine is quite different from Matisse’s style. Here, shapes and colours are often disassociated, as we can see in the lower part of the foreground on the right, with the three fruits placed on the floor. Furthermore, Picasso would readily scrape off freshly applied paint to etch out an image in darker areas by allowing the surface of the canvas to show through. Moreover, he boldly juxtaposes colours that are almost jarring - mauve, yellow, garnet red and turquoise. Finally, the superimposition of different viewpoints and planes in the same space is in line with Picasso’s earlier research into Cubism. Paul Guillaume acquired this painting in 1927.

Provenance: Paul Guillaume (1927); Domenica Walter