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 to 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.
Inscription: Signed and dated (in graphite, lower right): Picasso/ Paris Aout 1915
Ambroise Vollard, Paris (1915–d. 1939; purchased from the artist in August 1915 for Fr 500; his estate, from 1939); [Martin Fabiani, Paris]; [André Weil, New York, until 1947; sold in December 1947, through John Rewald, to MMA]
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