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The Actor

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

Date:
1904–5
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
77 1/4 x 45 3/8 in. (196.2 x 115.3 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Thelma Chrysler Foy, 1952
Accession Number:
52.175
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.

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  • See also
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