Artwork Details

Pablo Picasso
Spanish

1881–1973

Tete d'Homme (Head of a Man)
1969
Medium
Oil paint, watercolor, and pastel on paper
Dimensions
25 3/4 x 20 inches
Location
Level 3, Gallery 5
Accession Number
2020.52
Credit
Gift of Miner S. and Mary Ann Keeler
Image Copyright
© Pablo Picasso

About the Artwork

During the late 1960s, the musketeer became Pablo Picasso’s final alter-ego, after a lifetime of representing himself in such other various guises as a harlequin, a monkey, and a minotaur. Picasso’s musketeer character, which he first started sketching in his notebooks in 1966, was inspired during his recovery from surgery the previous year, when he reread Alexander Dumas’s novel The Three Musketeers. On the cusp of his 80th birthday, Picasso sought to assert some of these characters’ adventurous virility. Picasso was also thinking about his own artistic legacy, taking on a subject earlier portrayed by two of his artistic heroes, Rembrandt and Velázquez, giants of European art history whose standing Picasso aspired to achieve. 

The musketeer in this 1969 painting crowds the edges of its paper support, commanding our attention. Picasso painted the figure in vigorous strokes with red, green, and yellow fills. He added facial detail with pastel, giving contour to the masklike face. The musketeer’s saucer-like black eyes reveal a vulnerability at odds with his projected bravado.