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Pablo Picasso was one of the most dominant and influential artists of the first half of the 20th century. Associated most of all with pioneering Cubism, alongside Georges Braque, he also invented collage and made major contributions to Symbolism and Surrealism. Above all, he saw himself as a painter, yet his sculpture was greatly influential, and he also explored areas as diverse as printmaking and ceramics. Finally, he was a famously charismatic personality; his many relationships with women not only filtered into his art but also may have directed its course. His behavior has come to embody that of the bohemian modern artist in the popular imagination.
This is an original Pablo Picasso pastel sketch, framed, signed and inscribed on a title page of L'Oeuvre Gravé de Picasso. The title page features a sketch of Lydia Sylvette David and Tobias Jellinek, who were close friends of Picasso, with a signed dedication reading “Pour mes chers fiancés”. The date 20.4.56 is located in the left upper corner.
This piece was dedicated and gifted to the engaged couple and while Picasso regularly gifted sketches and signed pieces to his friends, the vast majority of works have been lost in time or have degraded over the years. The model for the sketch, Lydia Sylvette David, also known later by her married name Lydia Corbett, was a French woman who worked in a pottery studio near Picasso's studio in Vallauris during the summer of 1953. Finding her appearance appealing, she became one of Picasso’s muses for a short time with around 40 works inspired by her. She became fondly known as “The Girl with the Ponytail”.
It is a rarity to find a Picasso with such romantic provenance. There is a final tribute to the creation of this piece from Tobias Jellinek himself, "In 1956 the art periodical, VERVE, had an image of Sylvette on the cover and Sylvette and I were given a copy. We went to see Picasso that day and took the book with us, and asked Picasso if he would sign it for us. He went and found some coloured crayons and wrote the dedication, adding the little sketch of us both. The likeness of Sylvette shows how comfortable he was with producing her image, which he had previously worked with for several months. His drawing of me with my new beard is less of a likeness!" Tobias Jellinek, April 2017.
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