NYC - Metropolitan Museum of Art: Pablo Picasso's Girl Reading at a Table
Girl Reading at a Table
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 18811973)
Oil and enamel on canvas; H. 63-7/8, W. 51-3/8 in. (162.2 x 130.5 cm)
Pablo Picasso was born in 1881 in Malaga, Spain, and grew up in Barcelona, where he associated with a large group of artists and writers that gathered at Els Quatre Gats café. In 1904 Picasso settled in Paris and became friendly with artist Georges Braque, with whom he developed Cubism, and writers Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire. Picasso's painting style changed many times throughout his career, and he produced a range of images from classical figures to radical abstractions. He exhibited widely and is considered one of the most important and influential figures in twentieth-century art. Besides being a prolific painter and draftsman, Picasso was also an accomplished sculptor and printmaker and produced ceramics and theatrical designs. He died in Mougins, France, in 1973.
In 1927, when he was forty-five, Picasso met Marie-Thérèse Walter, a seventeen-year-old French schoolgirl who became his mistress. In retrospect their relationship seems the happiest and least public of Picasso's many amatory alliances, and no other woman is more intricately woven into the fabric of his art.
In this painting of Marie-Thérèse, the time is night and the scene is intimate: she sits reading at a table in a room illuminated by only a small lamp. One hand gently holds open the pages of her book while the other touches her garland-crowned head with fingers that resemble feathers. The space of the room is compressed, but the resulting distortions are never severe. Sinuous rhythms absorb the straight linear accents of the table, and the exaggerated height of both table and plant emphasizes the young woman's childlike appearance. Her pale blond hair and blue-white skin make her look especially ethereal within this dark and deeply colored interior. The canvas, one of several similar compositions Picasso painted of his mistress, is a poem by a man in love.
Bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn, in honor of William S. Lieberman, 1995 (1996.403.1)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's permanent collection contains more than two million works of art from around the world. It opened its doors on February 20, 1872, housed in a building located at 681 Fifth Avenue in New York City. Under their guidance of John Taylor Johnston and George Palmer Putnam, the Met's holdings, initially consisting of a Roman stone sarcophagus and 174 mostly European paintings, quickly outgrew the available space. In 1873, occasioned by the Met's purchase of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriot antiquities, the museum decamped from Fifth Avenue and took up residence at the Douglas Mansion on West 14th Street. However, these new accommodations were temporary; after negotiations with the city of New York, the Met acquired land on the east side of Central Park, where it built its permanent home, a red-brick Gothic Revival stone "mausoleum" designed by American architects Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mold. As of 2006, the Met measures almost a quarter mile long and occupies more than two million square feet, more than 20 times the size of the original 1880 building.
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The Metropolitan Museum of Art was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1967. The interior was designated in 1977.
National Historic Register #86003556