Picasso drew this portrait of the French Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine (1844-1896), and another of his friend Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898), on the endpapers to an edition of Mallarmé's poetry that belonged to his friend Paul Éluard (1895-1952). The Metropolitan's drawing was separated from both the book and its companion drawing at some point before 1966. Picasso was probably introduced to Verlaine's poetry while still a teenager in Spain, but it was Max Jacob, whom he met in Paris in the summer of 1901, who was responsible for the artist's early education in French literature, especially Verlaine. Picasso met Éluard in the mid-1920s through his associations with the Surrealists. He dedicated a number of poems to Picasso and collected his work. In turn, Picasso contributed original illustrations to Éluard's publications.
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed on verso, in ink: Pour/ Paul Eluard/ Picasso/ Paris le mardi 6 juin 1945; dated, upper left and upper right: 5.6.45
Paul Éluard (Eugène Grindel), Paris (1945–d. 1952; gift of the artist on June 6, 1945); possibly his daughter, Cécile Éluard; [M. Knoedler & Cie, Paris and New York, by 1966–67; sold in October 1967 to Avnet]; Lester Francis and Joan Avnet (1967–ca. 1978); William S. Lieberman, New York (by 1978–d. 2005; his bequest to MMA)