The Actor

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, Malaga 1881–1973 Mougins, France )

Oil on canvas
77 1/4 x 45 3/8 in. (196.2 x 115.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Thelma Chrysler Foy, 1952
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    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. Recently, a Museum visitor accidentally fell into the picture, tearing the canvas at the lower right margin. It has since been repaired.
    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.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: Signed, lower right: Picasso

    Inscription: Inscribed on verso in blue crayon on horizontal stretcher bar at center (in another hand): Picasso/ 4019; on vertical bar at center: 1443; in lighter blue crayon: PH 4014; in graphite: H4 (?)

  • Provenance

    Frank Burty Haviland, Paris and Céret (likely acquired from the artist, ca. 1905 – 1912; sold through Joseph Brummer); [likely Brummer Frères, Paris, in co-shares with Haviland; stock no. xk21, sold in April 1912, to Feldmann]; [likely Rheinische Kunstsalon (Otto Feldmann), Cologne, April 1912; sold to Leffmann]; Alice and Paul Friedrich Leffmann, Cologne and Fribourg (1912 – June 1938; the canvas was left in the care of Professor Dr. Heribert Reiners, in Fribourg, Switzerland by September 7, 1932; sold through Käte Perls); [Galerie Käte Perls, Paris, acting as agent for Leffmann, 1937-1938]; [Hugo Perls, Paris, then New York, bought 1/3 share with Rosenberg, June 1938 – November 15, 1941; sold through Rosenberg]; [Galerie Paul Rosenberg, Paris; and Rosenberg & Helft Gallery, London; then Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York, bought 2/3 shares with Perls, June 1938 - November 15, 1941; stock no. 4014; sold to Charles Henschel of Knoedler]; [M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1941; sold to Mrs. Chrysler Foy]; Thelma Chrysler Foy, New York (1941 – 1952; her gift to the MMA, 1952)

  • Exhibition History

    Cologne. Städtische Ausstellungshalle. "Internationale Kunst Ausstellung des Sonderbundes Westdeutscher Kunstfreunde und Künstler," May 25–September 30, 1912, no. 216 (p. 40, pl. 28; as "Schauspieler").

    Cologne. Rheinische Kunstsalon (Otto Feldmann). "Pablo Picasso," March–April, 1913, no. 5 (as "Der Schauspieler") [likely also traveled to Prague, 1913].

    Berlin. Ausstellunghaus am Kurfürstendamm. "Herbstausstellung," December 1913, no. 160 (as "Der Schauspieler").

    Cologne. Kölnische Kunstverein. "Kunst in Kölner Privatbesitz," mid February–end March 1916, no. 78 (as "Der Schauspieler").

    Cologne. Kölnische Kunstverein. "Moderne Kunst aus Kölner Privatbesitz," January 1929, no catalogue.

    Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Picasso: Forty Years of His Art," November 15, 1939–January 7, 1940, no. 29.

    Art Institute of Chicago. "Picasso: Forty Years of His Art," February 1–March 5, 1940, no. 29.

    City Art Museum of Saint Louis. "Picasso: Forty Years of His Art," March 16–April 14, 1940, no. 29.

    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Picasso: Forty Years of His Art," April 26–May 25, 1940, no. 29.

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. "Picasso: Forty Years of His Art," June 25–July 22, 1940, no. 29.

    Cincinnati Art Museum. "Picasso: Forty Years of His Art," September 29–October 27, no. 29.

    Los Angeles County Museum. "Aspects of French Painting from Cézanne to Picasso," January 15–March 2, 1941, no. 31.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The World of Balenciaga," March 21–July 1, 1973, not in catalogue.

    New York. Acquavella Galleries. "Picasso: A Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of Cancer Care, Inc., The National Cancer Foundation," April 15–May 17, 1975, unnumbered cat.

    Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Pablo Picasso: A Retrospective," May 22–September 16, 1980, unnumbered cat. (p. 54 and checklist p. 9).

    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. 20).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 27–August 1, 2010, no. 23.

  • References

    Hans Hildebrandt. "Die Frühbilder Picassos." Kunst und Künstler, II (1913), p. 378.

    "Kunst Wissenschaft und Leben: Bildende Kunst in Köln." Kölnische Zeitung (March 27, 1913), p. 1.

    Karl Scheffler. "Die Letzte Ausstellung der Berliner Sezession." Kunst und Künstler 12 (December 1, 1913), p.
    202, ill.

    Max Creutz. "Hans Leffmann in Köln von Architekt Bruno Paul." Dekorative Kunst 24 (January–February 1921),
    p. 76, ill. pp. 75, 79, 83 (installation photos of Leffmann home, Cologne).

    Maurice Raynal. Picasso. Munich, 1921, pl. 18.

    Hermann Muthesius. Die schöne Wohnung: Beispiele neuer deutsche Innenräume. Munich, 1922, p. 137, ill.

    Maurice Raynal. Picasso. Paris, 1922, pl. 18.

    Oskar Schürer. Pablo Picasso. Berlin and Leipzig, 1927, pl. 2.

    The Dial 85 (October 1928), unpaginated, ill.

    L. S. E. "Ausstellungen." Das Kunstblatt 13 (1929), p. 95.

    Christian Zervos. Pablo Picasso. Vol. 1,Works from 1895 to 1906. Paris, 1932, p. 124, no. 291, ill.

    Alfred H. Barr Jr. Picasso: Forty Years of His Art. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York,
    1939, p. 37, no. 29, ill. p. 39.

    James Thrall Soby. "Picasso: A Critical Estimate." Parnassus 11 (December 1939), p. 10, ill. p. 8.

    Alfred H. Barr Jr. Picasso: Fifty Years of His Art. New York, 1946, p. 33, ill.

    Jacques Lassaigne. Picasso. Paris, 1949, pl. 12.

    Juan Antonio Gaya Nuño. Picasso. Barcelona, 1950, pl. 12.

    "Additions to the Collections." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Incorporating the Eighty Third Annual
    Report of the Trustees for the Year 1952 12 (Summer 1953), p. 18.

    Sanka Knox. "Art Epoch Opens at Metropolitan: 700 Masterpieces Go on View Today in the 44 Recreated
    Galleries of the Museum." New York Times (January 9, 1954), p. 17.

    William S. Lieberman. Pablo Picasso: Blue and Rose Periods. New York, 1954, pls. 21, 22.

    Frank Elgar and Robert Maillard. Picasso: Étude de l'oeuvre. Paris, 1955, pp. 18, 265, ill.

    Denys Sutton. Picasso, Peintures: Époques bleue et rose. 2nd ed. Paris, 1955, fig. 23.

    Frank Elgar and Robert Maillard. Picasso: A Study of His Work. New York, 1956, p. 22, ill.

    Antonina Vallentin. Pablo Picasso. Paris, 1957, p. 113.

    Günter Aust. "Die Ausstellung des Sonderbundes 1912 in Köln." Wallraf Richartz Jahrbuch 23 (1961), p. 284.

    Anthony Blunt and Phoebe Pool. Picasso, the Formative Years: A Study of His Sources. London, 1962, p. 21.

    Hugo Perls. Warum ist Kamilla schön? Von Kunst, Künstlern und Kunsthandel. Munich, 1962, ill. on cover.

    Pierre Daix and Georges Boudaille. Picasso: The Blue and Rose Periods: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings,
    1900–1906. Greenwich, Conn., 1967, pp. 65, 67–68, 70, 74, 254, 256, no. XII.i, ill.

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The
    Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, pp. 231–32, ill.

    Paolo Lecaldano. L'opera completa di Picasso blu e rosa. Milan, 1968, p. 99, no. 154, pl. 27.

    Georges Boudaille. Picasso: Première époque, 1881–1906: Périodes bleue et rose. Paris, 1969, pl. VI.

    André Fermigier. Picasso. Paris, 1969, pp. 46–47, 392, fig. 28.

    Roland Penrose. Picasso: His Life and His Work. rev. ed. (first edition 1958). New York, 1973, p. 111, pl. III.i.

    Donald E. Gordon. Modern Art Exhibitions, 1900–1916: Selected Catalogue Documentation. Munich,, 1974, p.

    Pierre Cabanne. Pablo Picasso: H?is Life and Times. New York, 1977, pp. 94, 97, 211.

    Denys Chevalier. Picasso: The Blue and Rose Periods. New York, 1978, pp. 40, 64, 69, ill.

    Ronald Christ. "Picasso's Hands: The Mutability of Human Form." ArtsCanada, no. 236–37 (September–October
    1980), pp. 21–22, ill.

    Pierre Cabanne. Picasso: Pour le centenaire de sa naissance. Neuchâtel, 1981, p. 60.

    Josep Palau i Fabre. Picasso: The Early Years, 1881–1907. New York, 1981, pp. 396, 399, 403, 544–45, no. 1017, ill.

    Roland Penrose. Picasso: His Life and His Work. 3rd ed. Berkeley, 1981, pp. xii, 108, pl. III.1.

    Christine Piot. "Décrire Picasso." PhD. diss., Universite de Paris Pantheon Sorbonne, October 1981, p. 61.

    Jacques Perry. Yo Picasso. Paris, 1982, p. 110.

    Isabelle Monod Fontaine et al. Donation Louise et Michel Leiris: Collection Kahnweiler Leiris. Exh. cat., Musée
    National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, 1984, p. 169.

    Haruki Yaegashi in Roransan/Laurencin. Exh. cat., Art Gallery Shueisha. Tokyo, 1985, p. 72.

    Marie Laure Bernadac and Paule de Bouchet. Picasso, le sage et le fou. Paris, 1986, p. 33, ill.

    Pierre Daix. Picasso créateur: La Vie intime et l'oeuvre. Paris, 1987, p. 56.

    Pierre Daix and Georges Boudaille. Picasso, 1900–1906: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint. Neuchâtel, 1988,
    pp. 67, 69–70, 256–57, no. XII.i, ill.

    Denys Chevalier. Picasso: The Blue and Rose Periods. New York, 1991, pp. 62–63, 73, ill.

    John Richardson with the collaboration of Marilyn McCully. A Life of Picasso. Vol. 1, 1881–1906. New York,
    1991, pp. 248, 315, 337–38, 502 n.31, ill.

    Michèle Richet in Picasso, Jeunesse et genèse: Dessins, 1893–1905. Ed. Brigitte Léal. Exh. cat., Musée Picasso.
    Paris, 1991, p. 112.

    Núria Rivero Teresa Llorens and Pierre Daix in Picasso, 1905–1906: From the Rose Period to the Ochres of
    Gósol. Exh. cat., Museu Picasso. Barcelona, 1992, pp. 34, 48 n. 23.

    Hélène Seckel. Picasso: Les Chefs d'oeuvre de la période rose. Quarante tableaux. Munich and Paris, 1992, p.
    11, pl. 1.

    Carsten Peter Warncke. Pablo Picasso, 1881–1973. Vol. 1,The Works 1890–1936. Ed. Ingo F. Walther. Cologne,
    1992, p. 114, ill.

    Alfred Ziffer, ed. Bruno Paul: Deutsche Raumkunst und Architektur zwischen Jugendstil und Moderne. Munich,
    1992, p. 211, fig. 398.

    Danièle Boone. Picasso. rev. ed. (1st ed., 1989). London, 1993, p. 12.

    Christian Geelhaar. Picasso: Wegbereiter und Förderer seines Aufstiegs, 1899–1939. Zurich, 1993, pp. 47, 57,
    237, 274 n. 133, figs. 39, 268.

    Joseph Low (Pepe) Karmel. "Picasso's Laboratory: The Role of his Drawings in the Development of Cubism,
    1910–14." PhD. diss., Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 1993, vol. 1, p. 18 n. 4.

    John Richardson. "Picasso und Deutschland vor 1914." Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts; 20 Jahre Wittrock
    Kunsthandel; 20 Werke. Eds. Heiko Andreas and Wolfgang Wittrock. Düsseldorf, [1994], p. 26.

    Pierre Daix. Dictionnaire Picasso. Paris, 1995, pp. 9, 286, 416, 646, 763.

    Michael C. FitzGerald. Making Modernism: Picasso and the Creation of the Market for Twentieth Century Art.
    New York, 1995, pp. 254, 301 n. 115.

    Anne Baldessari. Le Miroir noir: Picasso, sources photographiques, 1900–1928. Exh. cat., Musée Picasso. Paris,
    1997, pp. 124, 128, fig. 113.

    Marilyn McCully, ed. Picasso: The Early Years, 1892 1906. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
    Washington, D.C., 1997, pp. 44, 217–18, fig. 6.

    Grace Glueck. "When One City Was the Heart of Art's Youth." New York Times (March 10, 2000), p. E39.

    Brigitte Léal et al. The Ultimate Picasso. New York, 2000, pp. 72, 76, 89, 504, fig. 149.

    Elizabeth Cowling. Picasso: Style and Meaning. London, 2002, pp. 118–19, fig. 93.

    William Owen Harrod. Bruno Paul: The Life and Work of a Pragmatic Modernist. Stuttgart, 2005, pp. 49, 52,
    104, fig. 78.

    Julia May Boddewyn in Michael FitzGerald. Picasso and American Art. Exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American
    Art. New York, 2006, pp. 350, 355.

    "Pablo Picasso: Works from an Important Sketchbook of 1905." Impressionist & Modern Art Works on Paper.
    Sotheby's, London. February 8, 2006, p. 16, under no. 126, ill.

    Peter Read. Picasso and Apollinaire: The Persistence of Memory. Berkeley, 2008, p. 14.

    Marie Laure Bernadac and Paule de Bouchet. Picasso, le sage et le fou. Paris, 2009, p. 41, ill.

    "Go See – New York: Picasso." Art Observed. May 21, 2010, ill., http://artobserved.com/go see new york picasso in the metropolitan museum of art through august 1st 2010/.

    "The Met Museum’s Picasso Exhibition Draws 700,000 visitors in 17 weeks." Broadwayworld.com. August 17, 2010,

    Tonica Chagas. "Picasso o gênio e suas surpresas." Estado de Sao Paulo (June 22, 2010), p. D5, ill.

    "Picasso Painting Damaged at New York Museum." CNN News. January 26, 2010, ill., http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/01/24/picasso.painting.damaged/index.html.

    "Travel Tip: Art and Archaeology in United States: Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." CultureKiosque.com. July 26, 2010, http://www.culturekiosque.com/travel/item17736.html.

    "Damaged Picasso Returns to Met." Daily Beast. April 20, 2010, http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheat sheet/item/damaged picasso returns to met/art/.

    Anaïs Davezac. "Le Met étale sa collection Picasso." French Morning. April 23, 2010, http://frenchmorning.com/ny/2010/04/23/le met etale sa collection picasso/.

    "Picasso at the Met: An in house Blockbuster." The Economist. April 22, 2010, http://www.economist.com/culture/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15949127.

    Shelley Esaak. "Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." About.com. July 26, 2010, ill.,http://arthistory.about.com/od/from_exhibitions/ig/picasso in the met/.

    Lance Esplund. "Hunger for Picasso: Four New York Exhibitions reveal our, and Picasso’s, endless appetites for the Master’s portraits, nudes – and blockbuster shows." CityArts 2 (May 4, 2010).

    Anne Grau. "El Metropolitan saca todos sus Picassos del almacén para capear la crisi." Diario ABC. April 27, 2010, ill. (installation photo), http://www.abc.es/20100427/cultura arte/metropolitan saca todos picassos 20100427.html.

    Rachel Heller. "Below the Surface." Haute Living. April 26, 2010, http://www.hauteliving.com/2010/04/below the surface.

    "Picasso Painting The Actor Torn by Woman at Metropolitan Museum of Art." Huffingtonpost.com. January 25, 2010, ill., http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/25/the actor picasso paintin_n_435210.html.

    "Artinfo: Top 10 Shows to See in New York City." Huffington Post. August 5, 2010, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/artinfo/the top ten shows to see_b_671701.html.

    Ula Ilnytzky. "Major Picasso Exhibit to Open in New York City." USA Today. April 17, 2010, http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/2010 04 17 new york picasso exhibit_N.htm.

    Candace Jackson. "The Art of Rips, Tears and Repairs: Damage to a Picasso is just the latest museum goer accident." Wall Street Journal.
    January 29, 2010, ill.,

    Candace Jackson. "Picasso to the Rescue." Wall Street Journal. April 16, 2010, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303348504575184392107698092.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_sections_lifestyle.

    Terry Marocco. "La Primavera di Picasso." Panorama (April 29, 2010), pp. 140 ff.

    "El Metropolitan muestra al completo sus colecciones de Picasso." MasdeArte.com. April 20, 2010, http://www.masdearte.com/index.php?view=article&catid=37&id=10776&option=com_content&Itemid=26.

    Valmir Moratelli. "Metropolitan usa raio X em obras de Pablo Picasso." Ultimo Segundo. June 16, 2010, http://ultimosegundo.ig.com.br/cultura/metropolitan+usa+raio+x+em+obras+de+pablo+picasso/n1237668933233.html.

    "Picasso at the Met." Newsday (April 30, 2010).

    Marc Pitzke. "Picassos neueste Enthüllungen." Spiegel. April 26, 2010, http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/gesellschaft/0,1518,691183,00.html.

    "Un Picasso endommagé en janvier revient dans une rétrospective au Met à New York." Le Point.
    April 22, 2010, http://www.lepoint.fr/culture/2010 04 22/un picasso endommage en janvier revient dans une retrospective au/249/0/448276.

    "Picasso en Nueva York: Solución a la crisis económica?" Revista Arcadia. April 27, 2010,
    http://www.revistaarcadia.com/arte/articulo/picasso nueva york solucion crisis economica/22164.

    Jerry Saltz. "Jerry Saltz Takes You Through the Met’s Massive Picasso Show." New York Magazine. May 4, 2010, ill. (video showing works in the exh. installation),

    "Beschädigtes Picasso Bild gibt Geheimnisse preis." Tages Anzeiger. April 28, 2010,
    http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/kultur/kunst/Beschaedigtes PicassoBild gibt Geheimnisse preis/story/10621115.

    "Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Time Magazine. May 6, 2010, ill.,

    Ethan Trex. "Do Not Touch: 8 Times Museum Patrons Mangled Works of Art." Mental Floss Blog. April 26,
    2010, http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/53984.

    "Picasso, al descobert, al Metropolitan de Nova York." TV 3 Barcelona. April 27, 2010, ill. (installation view),
    http://www.3cat24.cat/video/2867310/ociicultura/Picasso al descobert al Metropolitan de Nova York.

    Sacha Verna. "Alles, was da ist." Deutschlandradio. May 1, 2010, http://www.dradio.de/dlf/sendungen/kulturheute/1175130.

    Carol Vogel. "Woman Collides with a Picasso." New York Times (January 25, 2010), p. C2, ill.

    Carol Vogel. "Questions Over Fixing Torn Picasso." New York Times (January 26, 2010), p. C1, ill.

    Carol Vogel. "After Repairs, a Picasso Returns." New York Times (April 21, 2010), pp. C1, C7, ill.

    "Out of Storage, Into Spotlight: Met Shows Off its Picassos." Washington Post (April 18, 2010), p. E8.

    Linda Yablonsky. "Picasso’s Life, as seen through museum prism." The Record (April 28, 2010), p. F 9, ill.

    Linda Yablonsky. "Picasso Extravaganza Airs Met Museum Cache of Rarities, Wonders." Bloomberg. April 27,
    2010, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601088&sid=akCYMjyBQmeU .

    Janet Bishop, Cécile Debray, and Rebecca Rabinow, eds. The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian
    Avant Garde. Exh. cat., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. San Francisco, 2011, p. 116.

  • See also