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Standing Female Nude

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

Charcoal on paper
19 x 12 3/8 in. (48.3 x 31.4 cm) 28 3/4 x 22 3/4 x 1 3/4 in. (73 x 57.8 x 4.4 cm) (Frame)
Credit Line:
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1949
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    In March 1911, Alfred Stieglitz's small gallery in New York, 291, opened a large exhibition of forty-nine drawings and watercolors by Pablo Picasso, the artist's first showing anywhere in America. Among the highlights in the show, which surveyed the development of his art up to Analytic Cubism (1906-11), was this highly abstract charcoal drawing of a standing female nude, one of several studies on this theme he produced in the spring of 1910. It was, no doubt, one of the most radical drawings in the show and its linear, lattice-like construction prompted the press to derogatively call it "the fire escape." Although reduced to a series of lines and semicircles, without any semblance of three-dimensional form (despite areas of considerable shading), the essential parts of a human body-head, neck, shoulders, arms, torso, breasts, legs, and kneecaps-are all there. The controversy caused by this drawing was incitement enough for Stieglitz to purchase the work for his collection as a representation of the new direction of modern art. In 1913, he lent it to the large international exhibition of modern art in New York known as the Armory Show, where it was overshadowed by the uproar surrounding Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: Signed and inscribed on verso in graphite, lower left: 49 bis ¦Picasso¦

    Inscription: Inscribed on verso in graphite, upper left (in Stieglitz's hand): Property - / AS

  • Exhibition History

    New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ¦Drawings from the Alfred Stieglitz Collection¦, September 9-November 12, 1967 (no catalogue, typed checklist only)

    Michael Fitzgerald, with a chronology by Julia May Boddewyn, ¦Picasso and American Art¦, Whitney Museum of Art, New York, September 28, 2006–January 28, 2007; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California, February 25–May 28, 2007; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, June 17–September 9, 2007, ill. p. 29, plate 5, checklist p. 386, p. 30 (discussed). (New York only)

    National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "Picasso's Drawings, 1890–1921: Reinventing Tradition," January 29–May 6, 2012, no. 47.

  • References

    Tilkin, Danielle, et al. New York et L'Art Moderne: Alfred Stieglitz et son Cercle (1905-1930), Editions de la Reunion des musees nationaux, Paris,
    2004. p. 72, no. 22, and p.168, no. 83. illustrated.

    Karmel, Joseph Low (Pepe Karmel). Picasso’s Laboratory: The Role of his Drawings in the Development of Cubism, 1910-14 (PhD dissertation, New York University, Institute of Fine Arts), 1993. Mentioned in volume 1, p. 65; Discussed in volume 3, “Appendix I: Datings of the Figures", pp. 382-383, 439 (footnote 24); Illustrated b & w in volume 4, fig. 53 (Standing Nude, Paris, winter 1910-11) and fig. 54 (Photograph of Picasso in his studio, Boulevard Clichy, Paris, winter 1910-11, Standing Nude is hanging on the wall behind Picasso)