"My life is hell," wrote Picasso to Gertrude Stein just before the death of his companion, Eva Gouel, in December 1915. Picasso's preoccupation with Eva's health, the war, his friends in the army, and his status as a Spanish citizen in France accounts for his small output that year. Although Picasso's few friends remaining in Paris were fascinated by his foray into representational portraiture (see the portrait of Ambroise Vollard, MMA 47.140), they all noted the presence of large Cubist compositions in his studio on the rue Schoelcher, overlooking the Montparnasse cemetery. It was, perhaps, because of the war that the canvases remained in his studio, where Picasso continued to revise them. This composition was repainted innumerable times, passing from a drab palette of browns and grays to one of cool, vivid hues, and then, finally, to the dark colors associated with Picasso's despair over Eva's decline.
While Picasso would paint many still lifes on a mantel, this may be his first. He stresses the anthropomorphic aspects of the inanimate objects, encouraging the cheeks of the mantel to be read as legs and the musical instruments to be associated with male and female anatomy. Picasso clearly considered this an important work: not only did he photograph it in progress, he later hung the painting at his country home in Fontainebleau and kept it until 1930.
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Inscription: Signed and dated in black and orange paint, upper left: Picasso/ 1915
the artist, Paris and elsewhere (1915–30; sold on July 31, 1930, to Rosenberg and Wildenstein); [Paul Rosenberg, Paris, in joint ownership with Georges Wildenstein, Paris, 1930–at least spring 1934]; [Galerie Pierre (Pierre Loeb), Paris, 1934–40; consigned, through Käte Perls, Paris, to Perls Galleries (Klaus G. Perls), New York, stock no. 1074; consigned by Perls on November 14, 1940, to Matisse; sold on December 21, 1940 (in full on June 30, 1941) for $3,500 to Matisse]; [Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, 1940–44; stock no. 1027; sold on January 17, 1944, for $8,500 to Marx]; Samuel and Florene Marx, Chicago (1944–his d. 1964); Florene May Marx, later Mrs. Wolfgang Schoenborn, New York (1964–d. 1995; on extended loan at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from 1971; her bequest to MMA)
Paris. Galerie Paul Guillaume. "Matisse—Picasso," January 23–February 15, 1918, no. 15, 17 or 21 (as "Nature morte").
Kunsthaus Zürich. "Picasso Retrospective, 1901–1931," September 11–October 30, 1932, extended to November 13, 1932, no. 92.
New York. Pierre Matisse Gallery. "Landmarks in Modern Art," December 30, 1940–January 25, 1941, unnumbered cat.
New York. Pierre Matisse Gallery. "Picasso," November 30–December 30, 1943, no. 7.
Arts Club of Chicago. "Variety in Abstraction," March 5–30, 1946, no. 21.
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Paintings from Private Collections: A 25th Anniversary Exhibition," May 31–September 5, 1955, no. 114.
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," November 2, 1965–January 2, 1966, unnumbered cat. (p. 22).
Art Institute of Chicago. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," February 11–March 27, 1966, unnumbered cat.
City Art Museum of Saint Louis. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," April 26–June 13, 1966, unnumbered cat.
Mexico City. Museo de Arte Moderno. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," July 2–August 7, 1966, unnumbered cat.
San Francisco Museum of Art. "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection," September 2–October 2, 1966, unnumbered cat.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Picasso in the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art," February 3–April 2, 1972, unnumbered cat. (p. 6).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Florene M. Schoenborn Bequest: 12 Artists of the School of Paris," February 11–May 4, 1997, extended to August 31, 1997, brochure no. 16.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painters in Paris: 1895–1950," March 8–December 31, 2000, extended to January 14, 2001, unnumbered cat. (p. 75).
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," September 14–November 24, 2002, no. 21.
Tokyo. Bunkamura Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 7, 2002–March 9, 2003, no. 21.
Paris. Musée National Picasso. "Picasso cubiste," September 19, 2007–January 7, 2008, unnumbered cat. (p. 309).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 27–August 1, 2010, no. 62.
Alfred H. Barr Jr. Picasso: Forty Years of His Art. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1939, p. 88, no. 125 (listed as lent by Pierre Loeb, but loan did not occur).
Jean Cassou. Picasso. London, 1940, pp. 91, 166, ill.
Edward Alden Jewell. "In the Realm of Art: A Glance Back and a Look About. Exhibitions." New York Times (January 5, 1941), p. X9, ill.
Christian Zervos. Pablo Picasso. Vol. 2b, Works from 1912 to 1917. Paris, 1942, p. 251, no. 540, ill.
Jaime Sabartés. Paintings and Drawings of Picasso. Paris, 1946, pl. 7.
Jean Cassou and Jaime Sabartés. Two French Masters of Contemporary Art: Matisse–Picasso. Paris, , pl. 7.
Introduction by Alfred H. Barr Jr. "Paintings from Private Collections." Museum of Modern Art Bulletin 22 (Summer 1955), pp. 21, 34, ill.
Tom Prideaux. "Terrible Ladies of Avignon–Cubism." Life Magazine 65 (December 27, 1968), p. 63, ill.
Franco Russoli and Fiorella Minervino. L'opera completa di Picasso cubista. Milan, 1972, pp. 124–25, no. 821, ill.
Pierre Daix and Joan Rosselet. Picasso, The Cubist Years, 1907–1916: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings and Related Works. Boston, 1979, p. 342, no. 812, ill.
Josep Palau i Fabre. Picasso: Cubism, 1907–1917. New York, 1990, pp. 450, 522, no. 1361, ill.
Christian Geelhaar. Picasso: Wegbereiter und Förderer seines Aufstiegs, 1899–1939. Zürich, 1993, pp. 191, 200–201, figs. 209, 223.
Anne Baldassari. Picasso photographe, 1901–1916. Exh. cat., Musée Picasso. Paris, 1994, pp. 73–74, figs. 47, 48.
Pierre Daix. Dictionnaire Picasso. Paris, 1995, p. 433.
Carol Vogel. "32 Works of Art by Masters Left to Met and the Modern." New York Times (November 25, 1996), p. A1.
William Rubin, ed. Picasso and Portraiture: Representation and Transformation. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1996, p. 141, ill.
Anne Baldassari. Le Miroir noir: Picasso, sources photographiques, 1900–1928. Exh. cat., Musée Picasso. Paris, 1997, pp. 202, 208, ill. and fig. 204.
Anne Baldassari. Picasso and Photography: The Dark Mirror. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Paris, 1997, pp. 136–37, 166, ill.
Mila Andre. "Bien merci, Mme Schoenborn." Daily News (February 14, 1997), p. 63.
Pablo Picasso et Dora Maar, une histoire, des oeuvres: Succession de Madame Dora Markovitch, 1907–1997. Importantes Photographies de 1906 à 1946. October 28–29, 1998, pp. 10, 32, under no. 164, ill.
Natasha Staller. A Sum of Destructions: Picasso's Cultures and the Creation of Cubism. New Haven, 2001, frontispiece.
Anne Baldassari. Bacon–Picasso: The Life of Images. Exh. cat., Musée Picasso. Paris, 2005, p. 74, fig. 49.
Julia May Boddewyn in Michael FitzGerald. Picasso and American Art. Exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art. New York, 2006, pp. 355, 358, 361, 373.
John Richardson with Marilyn McCully. A Life of Picasso. Vol. 3, The Triumphant Years: 1917-1932. New York, 2007, p. 107, ill.
Liz O'Brien. Ultramodern: Samuel Marx, Architect, Designer, Art Collector. New York, 2007, p. 121, ill.
Gary Tinterow inPicasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Gary Tinterow and Susan Alyson Stein. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2010, pp. 11–12, 175–76, no. 62, ill. p. 177 (color), figs. 62.2, 62.3 (installation photos, the artist's studio, ca. 1915–16), 62.7 (installation photo, with Olga Picasso, 1921).
Isabelle Duvernois inPicasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Gary Tinterow and Susan Alyson Stein. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2010, pp. 178–79, figs. 62.4 (X-radiograph), 62.5, 62.6 (cross section).
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