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Woman with a Comb

Femme au peigne

This large gouache on paper announces a radical turning point in Picasso’s style. A nude woman stands combing her long black hair. However, some details strike the viewer immediately: the unbalanced body, the foreshortening of the drawing, the disproportionate head and the emerging stylisation of the face. The geometric simplification of the chest and pubis with triangular shapes heralds the radical figures that would lead Picasso towards Cubism, another example of which can be found in the Walter-Guillaume collection – Nu sur fond rouge [Nude on Red Background]. Picasso produced other images of women combing their hair during 1906. One of the closest versions to this one is a bronze now in the Baltimore Museum of Art in the United States. We also know of drawings of the same subject from this same year. However, in all these representations the woman combing her hair is depicted in a crouching position, making the version in the Musée de l’Orangerie quite distinctive. The art dealer Paul Guillaume acquired this picture from Picasso in 1929. His widow Domenica then kept it, unlike the many other Picassos that she sold in the years following her husband’s death.

Provenance: Paul Guillaume en 1929; Domenica Walter