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Femmes Espagnoles

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  • Mary Dono asked

    What are the dimensions of Femmes espagnoles by Picabia

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Mary, the painting itself (without its frame) is: 1010 × 860 mm. Best regards, Lisa


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More information

This work borders on kitsch. It appears to be a traditional and clichéd scene by a third rate painter. Picabia did this intentionally: he employed very diverse styles, from figurative to abstract. In this way he mocked established art movements and the snobbery of the connoisseur

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Collection book

Collection book Order


Title Femmes Espagnoles
Material and technique Gouache on cardboard
Object type
Drawing > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Height 1010 mm
Width 860 mm
Artists Artist: Francis Picabia
Accession number 3405 (MK)
Credits Purchase Stichting Fonds Willem van Rede. On permanent loan from the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, 1998
Department Modern Art
Acquisition date 1996
Creation date in circa 1925
Collector Collector / W. van Rede
Provenance M. Knoedler, Zurich; Paolo Spovieri, Agenzie d’Arte Moderna, Rome; Christie’s London, 3 December 1991, lot. 179; Geertjan Visser, Retie 1991-98
Exhibitions Otterlo 1992; Rotterdam 1996a; Rotterdam 1998a; Rotterdam 2015-16
Internal exhibitions Collectie - surrealisme (2017)
External exhibitions Dal nulla al sogno (2018)
Research A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van beuningen
Gouache > Drawing technique > Technique > Material and technique
Geographical origin France > Western Europe > Europe

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Entry catalogue A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van beuningen

Author: Marijke Peyser

In 1925 Francis Picabia decided to build a villa in the South of France with the money he had inherited from his uncle, Maurice Davanne. A long-cherished dream was fulfilled: to escape from the dull, grey north and live permanently in the sunny south. The artist bought a plot of land near Mougins and designed the house himself: a spacious, tranquil studio, living rooms surrounded by large terraces that invited sunbathing and a swimming pool. Picabia and his lover Germaine called the villa Château de Mai.[1] It soon became a meeting place for artists and friends. In September 1926 the society newspaper La Saison de Cannes reported that in his professional capacity Picabia was organizing splendid galas.[2] Although life for Picabia was a succession of dinners, parties and chic events, like taking part in the annual Concours d’Elégance en Automobile, he also spent whole days in his studio. His work there included popular scenes from Spanish life, inspired by a previous stay in Barcelona during the First World War.

Picabia’s first exhibition on the Riviera took place in 1927, in the middle of ‘le beau monde’. In Cannes’ chic Cercle Nautique there were eighty of his works on display and for sale. The works were carefully selected to take account of the conservative taste of the genteel and ultra-rich visitors. In reviews in the local press Picabia was both slated as well as praised: ‘M. Francis Picabia is presenting a strangely eclectic collection of canvases. Only some of them really held my attention, but what works they are! Enough to make up for all the mistakes of the past and to oblige me to make amends. These pieces are more than sufficient proof of the excellent quality of this artist’s work when he is prepared to be true to himself instead of exploring paths that have little to do with art … These faces of his Spanish ladies are exquisite in their youthful freshness’.[3] That a non-conformist like Picabia also made works like the gouache Femmes Espagnoles illustrates how he continually sought out the interface between art and kitsch and so also poked fun at his public.[4]

In November of 1927 he showed highly innovative work at Galerie Van Leer in Paris. André Breton and his companions made no secret of their admiration for these works.[5] Among other things their enthusiasm focused on Midi (1924-25), a landscape in Southern France, which was made with Ripolin (a brand of house paint), feathers, macaroni and leather on canvas. Portrait (de Poincaré?) (c. 1924-26) may be a likeness of the French politician Raymond Poincaré. Picabia made a frivolous portrayal of the Frenchman, using Ripolin, combs, thread, curtain rings, a tape measure, toothpicks, pens and erasers on canvas. The unconventional use of materials and character of these works perfectly reflect the starting points of the Surrealists and is entirely different from his paintings of voluptuous Spanish women.



[1] Borràs 1985, p. 287.

[2] Ibid., p. 290.

[3] Ibid.

[4] For a discussion of this discrepancy on the basis of his late work see Hamburg/Rotterdam 1997-98, p. 10.

[5] Paris 2002, p. 278.

Show research A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
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All about the artist

Francis Picabia

Parijs 1879 - Parijs 1953

Early in his career, Francis Picabia experimented with a variety of styles, including Impressionism and Cubism. In 1911, he met Marcel Duchamp, who had an...

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