©Pablo Picasso - An actor 1904

Picasso An actor 1904
An actor
1904 196x115cm oil/canvas
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

« previous picture | 1900s | next picture »

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City:
Simple yet haunting, The Actor is the work with which Picasso ended his obsession with the wretched in favor of the theatrical world of acrobats and saltimbanques. Although the attenuated figure and extraordinary play of hands recall the El Greco-inspired mannerism of the Blue Period, The Actor can be seen as the prologue to the series of works that culminates in the enormous canvas Family of Saltimbanques (1905, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). The new subject matter, palette, and sensibility of this picture coincide with the arrival of Picasso's new lover, the model and sometime artist Fernande Olivier (1881-1966). A sheet of studies for The Actor, made around New Year's Eve 1904, includes two profiles of Fernande and shows the same correction to the placement of the actor's left leg and foot that is visible in the painting.
Picasso painted The Actor on the back of a previously used canvas, on which another, unidentified artist had painted a landscape with swirling water.
Frank Burty Haviland, the wealthy Franco-American painter whose brother, Paul, backed Alfred Stieglitz's New York gallery, 291, was likely the first owner of this work. It was given to the Museum by the automobile heiress Thelma Chrysler Foy.