A Spanish painter, sculptor, designer and ceramicist who had an exceptionally long creative life, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) arrived in Paris in 1901 and embarked on his famous Blue Period (1901-1904). The large-scale pastel L’étreinte [The Embrace], now in the Musée de l’Orangerie, shows the cool tones that the artist was using at this time. During 1906, when Picasso was in the middle of his Rose Period (1904-1906), he became increasingly interested in robust figures that his visit to Gósol, in Spain, would later reinforce (Les adolescents [The Adolescents], Femme au peigne [Woman with a Comb]). Nu sur fond rouge [Nude on a Red Background] prefigures Picasso’s research for the Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907, MOMA, New York).
The classical poses and attitudes of these works are enhanced in the big figures of the 1920s, typical of the "return to order". The Musée de l’Orangerie has several of these major paintings (Grande baigneuse [Large Bather], Femme au chapeau blanc [Woman in White Hat], Grand nu à la draperie, [Large Nude with Drapery]Femmes à la fontaine [Women at the Spring]). Finally, there are two paintings from the Musée de l’Orangerie collection that are aesthetically close to late Cubism (Grande nature morte [Large Still Life] and Femme au tambourin [Woman with Tambourine]).
The current composition of the collection might lead one to believe that the collector and dealer Paul Guillaume did not keep any of Picasso’s paintings from his Cubist period, only those that preceded and followed it. However, we should point out that, after his death, his wife Domenica got rid of the boldest works from this period. Although Paul Guillaume was not Picasso’s official dealer, their common interest in primitive art, and in particular "Negro Art", brought them together.
Paul Guillaume was, moreover, the first art dealer to mount an exhibition, in his gallery in 1918, bringing together the two great masters of painting, Matisse and Picasso.