Ambroise Vollard

Pablo Picasso Spanish

Not on view

In the summer of 1915, a year after the outbreak of World War I and the mobilization of friends such as Georges Braque, André Derain, and Guillaume Apollinaire, Picasso found himself reconstructing his own life in Paris. Although the art market had ground to a halt, Picasso was casting about for a new dealer. He had always made portraits of the dealers he was wooing, so in August he made this pencil portrait of Ambroise Vollard in imitation of Ingres; it was his second effort in this style. Picasso shows Vollard sitting on a chair in his new studio on the rue Schoelcher. Although Vollard famously enjoyed sitting for artists—"He has the vanity of a woman," Picasso told Françoise Gilot—Picasso drew from a photograph, following it quite closely.

Vollard (1866-1939) was one of the most extraordinary art dealers of the twentieth century; his support of artists such as Cézanne, Gauguin, and Picasso, from 1906–11, was crucial. From his first show at Vollard's gallery on the rue Laffitte in 1901, through his creation, in the 1930s, of the set of one hundred etchings known as the Vollard Suite, Picasso had great but wary respect for the canny dealer and even, as one sees in this portrait, some affection. Although Vollard never gave Picasso the contract he wanted, he kept this drawing until his death.

Ambroise Vollard, Pablo Picasso (Spanish, Malaga 1881–1973 Mougins, France), Graphite on paper

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