Seated Woman with a Book (Femme assise au livre)
Seated Woman with a Book (Femme assise au livre), ca. 1910
Oil on canvas
41.3 x 24.1 cm (16 1/4 x 9 1/2 inches)
Museum Works of Art Fund 51.094
Picasso was an originator of Cubism, an artistic style whose name derived from a comment made by a French critic about the “little cubes” that comprised a painting shown by Georges Braque in 1908. Proponents of Cubism utilized a variety of techniques that included faceting of mass, erasure of contour, layering of flattened shapes, and the use of geometric components in the construction of forms. Their subjects were often presented as if simultaneously viewed from multiple vantage points. In Seated Woman with a Book, Picasso created a fluid structure in which passages of tonal modeling shift through armatures of angled lines. Integrating the figure into the space she occupied, he built a rhythmic scaffold in which clues to the woman’s physical identity are embedded. Ambiguous hieroglyphics suggest her breasts, her crossed legs, the book in her lap, and the chair on which she sits. At left, the shift of palette from gray-brown to a soft blue suggests that the figure is seated before an open window. Like many Cubist paintings of this period, it abstracts forms from everyday life and presents them as conceived in the artist’s imagination.
In Picasso’s early Cubist paintings, subjects were often fragmented and presented from multiple points of view. Here he transforms a female figure into a rhythmic scaffold in which tonal modeling shifts through armatures of angled lines. Clues to her pose and physical identity appear in the ambiguous hieroglyphics that suggest her breasts and the references to her crossed legs, the book in her lap, and the chair on which she is perched. The subtle shift of palette from gray-brown to a soft blue suggests that the model is seated before an open window looking out on the sea.(November 12, 2004 – March 5, 2005)
European Paintings and Sculpture, ca. 1770 - 1937
Edited BySlimmon, Ann H, and Judith A. Singsen, eds.
Contributions byRosenfeld, Daniel, et al
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1991
TypeMonographs and CollectionsSelected Works
Edited ByWoolsey, Ann, ed.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 2008
TypeMonographs and CollectionsA Handbook of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design
Edited ByWoodward, Carla M., and Franklin W. Robinson, eds.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1988
TypeMonographs and CollectionsExchange Exhibition, Exhibition ExchangeFrom the Collection of Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University; From the Collection of The Museum of Art, Rhode
Contributions byMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design.
Publisher & DateMuseum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. Waltham, MA: Rose Art Museum, Brandesi University., 1967