A Picasso from Berlin

Saturday, May 28, 2005 - Sunday, September 04, 2005

Lady Lever Art Gallery

The Nationalgalerie Berlin has lent this cubist portrait, ‘A Woman Seated in an Armchair’, to the Lady Lever Art Gallery. It is in exchange for the loan of our famous Pre-Raphaelite picture ‘The Scapegoat’ which was exhibited in Berlin in 2004.

We are showing the work alongside one of our paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 'Sibylla Palmifera' so that you can compare the two artists’ different approaches to depicting female beauty.

'A Woman Seated in an Armchair', Pablo Picasso

'A Woman Seated in an Armchair', Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso worked in a cubist style from 1905 until 1914. The aim of Cubism was to depict objects as we know them, not just as we see them in a single moment. So, instead of illustrating an object or person from one viewpoint the artist combines many views simultaneously. There is no illusion of space in the pictures, forms are fragmented and a limited range of colours is used. The effect is to distort the conventional appearance of things and to challenge the traditional ideal of beauty and harmony.

Rossetti worked in the late Pre-Raphaelite style of the 1860s. He pictured women as ‘femmes fatales’, cruel and powerful temptresses, luring helpless men to their fate. He showed his women surrounded by luxurious and precious objects. These heighten the sense of beauty and sexuality. Through their symbolic meaning these objects also convey ideas about the power of women over men, and the association between love and death.

Rossetti’s paintings of women look more realistic than Picasso’s. But both artists distort objective reality, and depict women using their own styles and ways of seeing.