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Recent Acquisitions: Pablo Picasso, Still Life with a Bottle of Marc, 1911

Hood Quarterly, spring 2013

Picasso’s most important cubist print, Still Life with a Bottle of Marc, was commissioned by his dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, in 1911 and published the following year in an edition of one hundred. The drypoint in the Hood’s version is unusually rich in contrast, with a lot of burr and a rich plate tone that suggests that it does not belong to the regular edition but is instead an extremely rare artist’s proof. Picasso found the directness and freedom of drypoint engraving to be particularly well suited to his objective of reordering reality, in this case a still life arrangement with a bottle of spirits, playing cards, and a drinking glass on a café tabletop. The artist has situated these identifiable elements within the rigorously shallow space of the composition and has flattened their volumes into a scaffold-like system of autonomous lines and overlapping planes. The title refers to a popular liqueur, Eau de vie de marc, whose name was partially inscribed by Picasso in capital letters on the plate. However, the heart on the playing card below the word “MARC” had led some scholars to suggest that the word may also refer to Marcelle Humbert, the artist’s lover during his cubist period. 

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