About This Artwork

Pablo Picasso
Spanish, worked in France, 1881–1973

The Red Armchair, December 16, 1931

Oil and Ripolin on panel
51 5/8 x 38 7/8 in. (131.1 x 98.7 cm)
Signed, u.r.: "Picasso"

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Saidenberg, 1957.72

© 2018 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Pablo Picasso painted numerous portraits of the many women in his life. Often the circumstances surrounding his relationships or the distinct personalities of his sitters seem to have precipitated stylistic changes in his work. Marie-Thérèse Walter came into the artist’s life around 1925. Though twenty-eight years her senior, Picasso was smitten and began making furtive references to her blond hair, broad features, and voluptuous body in his work. Perhaps acknowledging the double life he and she were leading, he devised a new motif: a face that encompasses both frontal and profile views.

Picasso experimented beyond form and style, exploring different materials— including found objects such as newspaper, wallpaper, and even studio scraps—in his work. The Red Armchair demonstrates the artist’s innovative use of Ripolin, an industrial house paint that he first employed as early as 1912 for its brilliant colors, as well as its ability to provide an almost brushless finish if used straight from the can. In preparation for an exhibition of his work at the Galeries Georges Petit in 1931, Picasso began a series of large paintings of Marie-Thérèse, of which The Red Armchair was the first. Here he mixed Ripolin with oil to produce a wide range of surface effects— from the crisp brushmarks in the yellow background, to the thick but leveled look of the white face and the smooth black outlines of the figure.

— Entry, The Essential Guide, 2013, p.272.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Paris, Galeries Georges Petit, Picasso, June 16–July 30, 1932, p. 65, cat. 199, as La Femme au Fauteuil Rouge.Zurich, Kunsthaus, Picasso, September 11–October 30, 1932, p. 15, cat. 203, as Frau in Rotem Lehnstuhl.

Rome, Galeria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Mostra di Pablo Picasso, May–July 5, 1953, p. 36, cat. 21 (ill.).

Milan, Palazzo Reale, Pablo Picasso, September–November 1953, p. 51, cat. 59 (ill.).

Paris, Musée des arts Decoratifs, Picasso: Peintures 1900-1955, June–October 1955, cat. 76 (ill.).

Munich, Haus der Kunst, Picasso 1900-1955, October 25–December 18, 1955, cat. 65 (ill.); traveled to Cologne, Rheinisches Museum, December 30, 1955–February 29, 1956 and Hamburg, Kunstverein, Kunsthalle-Artbau, March 10–April 26, 1956.

Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, March–September 1957.The Art Institute of Chicago, Picasso in Chicago, February 3–March 31, 1968, pp. 35 amd 114, cat. 35 (ill.).

New York, Museum of Modern Art, Pablo Picasso: A Retrospective, May 22–September 16, 1980, p. 288 (ill.).

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Picasso and the 'Weeping Women,' February 13–May 1, 1994, pp. 154–155, fig. 116; traveled to New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, June 12–September 4, 1994, and The Art Institute of Chicago, October 8, 1994–January 8, 1995.

Publication History

Galeries Georges Petit, Picasso, exh. cat. (Paris: Galeries Georges Petit, 1932), p. 65, cat. 199.

Cahiers d’Art 3–5 (June 1932), n.p. (ill.).Kunsthaus Zurich, Picasso, exh. cat. (Zurich: Kunsthaus Zurich, 1932), p. 15, cat. 203.

Hans Heilmaier, “Ein Meister Heutiger Malerie, zur grossen Picasso-Austellung in Paris,” Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration 70 (April–September 1932), p. 360 (ill.), as Frau im Roten Sessel.

Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso VII (Paris: Cahiers d’Art, 1951), p. 139, no. 334 (ill.), as Femme Dans un Fauteuil.

Lionello Venturi, Mostra di Pablo Picasso (Rome: Galeria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, 1953), p. 36, cat. 21 (ill.).

Palazzo Reale, Pablo Picasso, exh. cat. (Milan: Edizioni d’arte Amilcare Pizzi, 1953), p. 51, cat. 59 (ill.).

Maurice Raynal, Picasso, The Taste of Our Time Series, trans. by James Emmons (Geneva: Skira, 1953), p. 92 (ill.).

Musée des arts Decoratifs, Picasso: Peintures 1900-1955, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée des arts Decoratifs, 1955), cat. 76 (ill.).

Haus der Kunst, Picasso 1900-1955, exh. cat. (Munich: Haus der Kunst, 1955), cat. 65 (ill.).

Alexander Watt, “The Problem of Picasso,” Studio 150:752 (Nov. 1955), pp. 144, 146 (ill).

José Camón Aznar, Picasso y el Cubismo (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1956), p. 499, fig. 370, as Mujeres.

Frank Elgar and Robert Maillard, Picasso (Paris: Fernand Hazan, 1955), n.p. (ill.).

The Art Institute of Chicago Quarterly 51:4 (1957), p. 83, cover (ill.).

Jean Cassou, Panorama des Arts Plastiques Contemporains (Paris: Librairie Gallimard, 1960), fig. 26.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), pp. 358 and 436 (ill.).

Brassaï, Conversations avec Picasso (Paris: Gallimard, 1964; London: Thames and Hudson, 1966), p. 18.André Breton, Le Surréalisme et la Peinture (Paris: Gallimard, 1965), p. 115 (ill.).

Pierre Cabanne, “Picasso,” La Galerie des arts 34 (May 1966), p. 25 (ill.).

A. James Speyer, “Twentieth-Century European Paintings and Sculpture,” Apollo 84 (Sept. 1966), p. 225.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Picasso in Chicago, exh. cat. (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1968), p. 35, cat. 35 (ill.).

Howard Greenfield, Pablo Picasso: An Introduction (Chicago: Follett Publishing Company, 1971), pp. 116–117 (ill.).

Yusuke Nakahara, Picasso and Matisse, Grand Collection of World Art 23 (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1974), pl. 18.

William Rubin, Pablo Picasso: A Retrospective, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1980), p. 288 (ill.).

Linda Nochlin, “Picasso’s Color: Schemes and Gambits,” Art in America 68:10 (Dec. 1980), pp. 120, 179, and 183, fig. 19.

A. James Speyer and Courtney Graham Donnell, Twentieth Century European Painting (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 64, no. 3D9.

Alice Doumanian Tankard, Picasso’s “Guernica” after Rubens’s “Horrors of War” (Philadelphia: The Art Alliance Press, 1984), p. 58, pl. 27.

Herschel B. Chipp, Picasso’s Guernica (Berkeley, Cal.: University of California Press, 1988), pp. 122–123, fig. 7.22, as The Red Chair.

Picasso (France: ODA Laser Edition, 1992), p. 63, no. 28728, as Woman in an Armchair.Carsten-Peter Warncke, Pablo Picasso 1881–1973 I (Cologne: Benedikt Taschen, 1992), p. 348 (ill.), as Femme Assise Dans un Fauteuil Rouge.

Peter Gray, Psychology, second edition (New York: Worth, 1994), pp. xi and 160 (ill.).Judi Freeman, Picasso and the “Weeping Women,” exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1994), pp. 154–1544, fig. 116.

William Rubin, Picasso and Portraiture: Representation and Transformation, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1996), pp. 342–344, and 346 (ill).

Christie’s, New York, Impressionist and Modern Paintings, Drawings, and Sculptures (Part I) (May 14, 1997), p. 147, fig. 7.

Christie’s, New York, The Collection of Victor and Sally Ganz (Nov. 10, 1997), p. 165, fig. 8.

The Picasso Project, Picasso’s Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings, and Sculpture: A Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue 1885–1973, Surrealism 1930–1936 (San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1997), p. 74, no. 31–082 (ill.).

Jack Flam, Actualité des arts plastiques 97 (Centre de Documentation Pédagogique) (1997).Pablo Picasso: The Time with Françoise Gilot, exh. cat. (Bielefelt: Kerber Verlag, 2002), pp. 32–33, fig. 5.

La epoca de Picasso: donaciones a los museos americanos (Santander: Fundación Marcelino Botín, 2004), pp. 43 and 247.

Enrique Mallen, The On-Line Picasso Project (http://www.tamu.edu/mocl/picasso/), no. 31:04 (ill).

Ownership History

Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, acquired directly from the artist, 1955 [letter from Eleanore Saidenberg of October 10, 1975 in curatorial files]; sold to Saidenberg Gallery, July 25, 1956 [invoice of July 25, 1956 in curatorial file]; given to the Art Institute, 1957.

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