Talk:Portrait of Suzanne Bloch

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Last painting of the Blue Period?[edit]

The assertion that this portrait is the last work of the blue period seems rather novel; although several sources are cited, the one print source I have been able to examine (Palau i Fabre, pp. 378, 543) says nothing of the sort, which does not inspire confidence about the accuracy of the other cites. The Reuters story, written quickly when news of the theft broke, should not be considered authoritative in art-historical matters, in my opinion.

I'm no Picasso expert, but a check of some standard English-language books on Picasso discourages the idea that the b.p. came to a screeching halt with this portrait. Richardson (1991) discusses this painting in passing (p. 338) but says nothing that could support this article's claim. Daix (1993) writes "His commitment to Fernande, undertaken in the month of August, is reflected in a departure from blue. A warming of the palette is evident in the portraits of Gaby, wife of the actor Harry Baur; of Suzanne Bloch, the singer; and of friends like Manolo and Sebastián Junyer" (p. 42), and then moves on to other matters. The catalog of the 1980 MoMA retrospective does not mention this painting or name any single painting as marking of the end of the blue period. This article's implication—that art historians have reached a consensus in naming Portrait of Suzanne Bloch the last of the blue period works—seems greatly exaggerated if not entirely false. Ewulp (talk) 04:46, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Check out on-line Picasso project. Portrait of Suzanne Bloch is late Spring/early Summer 1904. Femme au Chignon is August 1904 and distinctly bluer, albeit gouache on carboard, as opposed to Bloch oil on canvas. In fact, as Bloch has a pink face, one could see it as the start of the Rose period. Compare with Femme à la chemise, Winter 1904/1905, which I think is Rose period officially. However, we have to go by reliable secondary sources, so if the sources say Bloch is the last blue, then that's what it is, until other sources contradict—then we include both according to their weight. Tyrenius (talk) 05:29, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Ah, August 1904: Meets Fernande (1881-1966), an artists model and great friend of Benedetta Canals in the Bateau-Lavoir - cf. Richardson 1991. Known among Picasso's circle as "la belle Fernande," she is the artist's first real love and becomes a principal inspiration in his work until 1910; she and Picasso break up definitively in the SPRING of 1912. Executes the work in pen, India ink, lead pencil and watercolor on paper Les amants [OPP.04:020]. The changes in the tonality of his canvases later prompts Coquiot to call this new phase 'Rose Period' (or 'Pink Period'). Major works include: Femme au chignon [OPP.04:026], Femme à la corneille [OPP.04:005], Femme à la chemise [OPP.04:053] and Acrobate au ballon (Fillette au ballon) [OPP.05:069], the latter two completed in the WINTER.[1] It seems the arrival of Fernande is the start of the Rose period, regardless of the colour of the paintings! Tyrenius (talk) 05:35, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

The online Picasso Project confirms that experts have placed the Suzanne Bloch portrait very near the beginning of the rose period, which was never disputed, although it will be noted that the oPP does not take the step of identifying this as the last blue period work. Here we see that Deux Personages is assigned to the same date range as the Suzanne Bloch portrait: late spring/early summer 1904. From this evidence, Suzanne Bloch may well have been the earlier of the two completed—or started. Perhaps started earlier but completed later, or vice-versa? Nobody pretends to know. Another complication: does the starting point for the rose period as defined by Coquiot really mark the moment the blue period came to an end? Not according to Palau i Fabre, who writes in Picasso, the early years, 1881-1907 (chapter XIV:1 From Blue to Rose (August–December, 1904)): "The blue period was not yet absolutely finished. It was to persist and reappear tenaciously before it finally came to an end. The alliance with pink was at first just another combination with a different colour, as with green or yellow on earlier occasions. Some of the works now considered pink were not regarded as such by Picasso ... This makes it difficult to date and determine the stage of transition from one period to the other". (p. 388) Bold assertions of lastness have been not just avoided but deprecated by leading authorities on Picasso, and we agree that they should be kept in proper balance here.

And needless to say, the only art historians who should be cited in support of the "last painting of the blue period" claim are those who have actually identified it as such. I hope to get a look at the Sutton book next week. The Portrait of Suzanne Bloch may very well be the last of the blue period Picassos -- their number is finite, so there had to be a last one! -- but the tone of certainty in this article was unwarranted, and needs further vetting. Ewulp (talk) 09:14, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

I totally agree. Something along the lines of "x sees it as the last painting but y sees it as part of a transitional period" would be acceptable. Tyrenius (talk) 16:32, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

About the sources[edit]

Hi, I'm the one who put the sources in this article. I must say that the sentence "Luiz Marques, professor of art history at Unicamp, refers to the painting as “the last of Picasso's Blue Period”[1]" is entirely true. Luiz Marques is a major Brazilian art history and I have the catalogue from which the sentence was taken. The other sources were taken from an article published by São Paulo Museum of Art Magazine, which states exactly what I have written, that Palau I Fabre, Moravia and Lecaldano, and Sutton agree this would be the last painting of Picasso's Blue Period. I have just put the sources that, according to the magazine, would confirm Luiz Marques' statement. But I haven't checked the other sources by myself.
I can only garantee that Luiz Marques refers to the painting as "the last of Picasso's Blue Period", in this exactly words. The São Paulo Museum of Art website also says that, quoting the same source in the same words, but in Portuguese. (http://masp.uol.com.br/servicoeducativo/assessoriaaoprofessor-dez06.php) Dornicke (talk) 22:17, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
I'll soon put a list of the others books quoted in MASP's catalogue as sources of the article about this painting, so that they perhaps might help solving this problem. Anyway, although Ewulp might be right when he says that claiming this portrait to be the last of Picasso's blue period "seems greatly exaggerated", he's certainly wrong about the possibility of it being "entirely false". At least one art historian (Luiz Marques), for sure, endorsed by the museum's website, considers the painting as "the last of Picasso's blue period" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dornicke (talkcontribs) 22:37, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Informations about the Museum's catalogue:
Catálogo do Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand: arte francesa e Escola de Paris / General coordination: Luiz Marques; photographies: Luis Hossaka, Roberto Neves. - São Paulo: Prêmio, 1998. DDC - 709.4598161.
Luiz Marques' statement is on page 206, first paragraph (In Portugues: "O retrato a óleo nasce, em todo caso, ainda neste ano de 1904, o último da fase azul a que ele tão plenamente pertence.") - Translating into English: "The oil portrait was born, anyway, still in the year of 1904, the last of the Blue Period, to which it fully belongs."
The Magazine (Revista do MASP) from where the sources were taken: Revista do MASP, ano (year) 2, nº 2, São Paulo, 1993, pp. 53-54. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dornicke (talkcontribs) 22:55, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Hello Dornicke! I'm sure we can soon reach satisfactory wording to resolve what is really a minor, but important issue in an otherwise very fine article. In reading the Luiz Marques quote above, I am struck by an ambiguity in the sentence: is he saying "The oil portrait was born, anyway, still in the year of 1904, the last painting of the Blue Period, to which it fully belongs.", or is he saying, "The oil portrait was born, anyway, still in the year of 1904, the last year of the Blue Period, to which it fully belongs."? It seems that it could be interpreted either way. If we interpret it the second way, Marques is not claiming this is the last work of the blue period.

My skepticism about this matter arose from the fact that I have never heard any art historian make such a decisive pronouncement about the first or last blue period work; they usually speak of gradualness and imprecision. I have quoted Palau I Fabre (above and in the article) cautioning against too much certainty, and speaking of blue period works produced as late as August-December 1904. This week I'll have a chance to look at Sutton and the Moravia and Lecaldano book, and I'll try to check some other sources too. With careful sourcing and wording of our article, we can represent this matter accurately, and without overstating anything. Ewulp (talk) 06:59, 31 December 2007 (UTC)


Hello Ewulp. You're right. Since I have started to read more about the painting before the robbery, when it was commonly quoted as "the last painting of the blue period", I probably had already read it without noticing the ambiguity of Marques' statement.
But you're right. The sentence is very ambiguous, in English and in Portuguese. And the Magazine from where I took the sources (Revista do MASP) refers to the painting in the same way ("o último do período azul").
So, I guess you're right. It's probably an interpretation issue and so far, since you have discovered the quoted source (Palau i Fabre) doesn't confirm that statement, the interpretation issue seems to be the problem.
Greetings, Dornicke (talk) 14:45, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

No mention[edit]

In the 1980 MoMA catalog accompanying the massive Pablo Picasso retrospective on page 56 in the Chronology - 1904 - 1906, it clearly states:

"Spring-Summer: Paints last "blue" works, among them Woman Ironing and the gouache Woman with Helmet of Hair, (both p.60).

"In summer, liaison with woman named Madeleine, about whom little is known, although she is probably model for Woman with Helmet of Hair. She inspires the Maternite theme that appears repeatedly in his drawings and gouaches and leads finally to the theme of the Family of Harlequin (pp. 62,63)." - No Mention at all of Portrait of Suzanne Bloch! Modernist (talk) 00:01, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Well, this doesn't add much to the discussion. We all know that the painting is among the last works of Picasso’s blue period. We’re trying to discover if it is THE LAST.
It’s pretty obvious that if the Portrait of Suzanne Bloch didn’t take part on this exhibition, it’s not going to appear in the exhibition’s catalogue. Besides, the simple fact that the catalogue states “among which” already implicates that there are other paintings not listed among the last works. If we were going to follow this ration line, we would have to consider that only the paintings listed in the catalogue are among the last of blue period, which we all know is not true.
Dornicke (talk) 01:22, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Actually thats not accurate, works that were mentioned in the catalog weren't necessarily included in the show. Make no mistake - if Portrait of Suzanne Bloch was painted in late spring, early summer it simply ISN'T one of the last "blue" paintings. Modernist (talk) 13:15, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Actually, Modernist's comment adds something very useful to the discussion: The MoMA catalog defines Woman with Helmet of Hair as a blue period work. We see this work here at the on-line Picasso Project, where it is dated to August 1904. That is a bit later than "late spring-early summer 1904", the date assigned to the Suzanne Bloch portrait. Tyrenius correctly points out above that Woman with Helmet of Hair seems to belong to the rose period (according to Coquiot's definition), despite its blue tonality! All of this only makes it clearer than ever how little consensus there is that any one work is the last blue period work. Ewulp (talk) 07:16, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
I note also that in our article, Luiz Marques is cited as a source for the information that the portrait was painted at "the end of" 1904. This is at odds with the date given by the on-line Picasso Project (and if I'm not mistaken, Palau I Fabre also gives it a date earlier than August 1904, but I don't have the book at hand). Ewulp (talk) 07:24, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Yet another paradox: if we accept Coquiot's definition of the starting point of the rose period (he says it starts with Fernande's arrival on the scene in August), and if we accept Marques' date for the Suzanne Bloch portrait (the end of 1904), then Portrait of Suzanne Bloch is a rose period painting, not blue period at all. Clearly, there is ambiguity here. Ewulp (talk) 07:58, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Hello. I believe this was an interpretation mistake. Marques’ doesn’t say exactly this work is “the last painting of the Blue Period”. As Ewulp has noticed, Marques’ sentence is ambiguous [“O ultimo da fase azul” (“The last of the blue period”) might be related to the year (1904), not to the painting]. Actually, now I tend to believe Marques was referring to the year.
There’s also a possible translation issue. Marques doesn’t state exactly that the painting was made “at the end of 1904”. He seems more likely to be referring to the date when Picasso definitely moved to Paris. I think I misunderstood it.
So, I believe I’ve made some confusion in here. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.
Dornicke (talk) 16:08, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
I've modified the description in the lead to reflect the direction of the above well-researched and civil discussion. I will also check Picasso literature this week. If anything new comes to light...JNW (talk) 16:20, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
Hopefully all's well that ends well, it is a wonderful painting that I hope is returned safely to the museum. Modernist (talk) 16:51, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Findings[edit]

I have not had a chance to look at the article from the São Paulo Museum of Art Magazine which provided the citations of Sutton, Palau i Fabre, Moravia and Lecaldano in support of the Portrait of Suzanne Bloch's role in marking the end of the blue period, but the English version of the 1948 Sutton book cited--a slim volume of about 16 color plates and brief intro text--neither reproduces nor mentions the Bloch portrait. The Moravia/Lecaldano book (also in the English version) reproduces the painting but does not call it the last of the blue period, or provide a date more specific than "1904". Since the source of the confusion is the ambiguously worded statement by Marques, wording repeated in the São Paulo Museum of Art Magazine, the Sutton, Palau i Fabre, Moravia and Lecaldano books cannot be cited for the claim.

The Angus MacSwan piece for Reuters, which says that the painting "is considered the last important work of the Spaniard's blue period", can fairly be cited on the grounds that MacSwan, a reputable correspondent, can be presumed to have gotten this information from an art professional, and the article he wrote was seen by potentially millions of readers. I'll try a minor rewrite in our article, which I hope will be satisfactory until more information comes to light. Ewulp (talk) 07:54, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

Cleanup[edit]

Ironically, there's much more information on the painting on this talk page than in the main space, while a couple of empty phrases can be found there, of which I have removed some:

  • "Since its creation, the Portrait of Suzanne Bloch has enjoyed great prestige and gathered a vast bibliography, taking part in many important exhibitions throughout the 20th century." - Any proof?
  • "This last exhibition granted a renovated prominence to the person of Suzanne Bloch." - If so, why is there so little information on the person included?

--rpd (talk) 16:01, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Yes, there are proofs about both sentences, and they were cited in the references section. If you have the chance of reading the Catalogue of São Paulo Museum of Art, you will find those statements there. Since they were written by, Luiz Marques, an art historian... I think it's pretty much worthy to put these informations.
And please, try to discuss with the other editors before making big changings, like these ones. You have erased two sentences which already had a source based not in the absence of proofs, but in what you thought was the true. This is much more "empty", in my opinion. Dornicke (talk) 18:58, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, the things I removed are not deleted, they are now here on the talk page - in order to be discussed. No reference has been deleted, but simply shifted. Feel free to re-insert whatever you like. My point was and is: Is this the kind of information a user needs for a better understanding of the painting? As far as I see, the information supplied was already provided by Camesasca - did Marquez indeed add fresh content or context, and if so, tell us! And at all, are there more news about Suzanne Bloch? --rpd (talk) 15:41, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

about the "citation needed"[edit]

The entire collection of São Paulo Museum of Art is listed as Brazilian National Heritage by IPHAN, not only the paintings which were stolen.There are many sources to confirm that, but all of them in Portuguese. Dornicke (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 19:02, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

  • Then, please tell us what the abbreviation (I presume) IPHAN is standing for in Portuguese: Insert a note to the text which supplies the full name of the institution and, if possible, a translation, and everybody will be happy. Thank you,--rpd (talk) 20:35, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Biber Family[edit]

  • From the English capital, the painting went to Lugano, in Switzerland, where it was hold in the private collection of the Biber family.

All we really know, is that Lichnowsky acquired from Paul Cassirer, in 1919 - and that the painting reappeared as an anonymous temporary loan the National Gallery of Art, Washington, said to have come from the Biber family. The change of ownership evidently happened some when between 1919 and —Preceding unsigned comment added by RogoPD (talkcontribs) 21:53, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

  • From the English capital, the painting went to Lugano, in Switzerland, where it was hold in the private collection of the Biber family.

All we really know, is that Lichnowsky acquired from Paul Cassirer, in 1919 - and that the painting reappeared as an anonymous temporary loan the National Gallery of Art, Washington, said to have come from the Biber family. The change of ownership evidently happened some when between 1919 and 1942. It would be nice to have more precise information on this transaction. - By the way, paintings do not walk from London to Switzerland nor elsewhere. They need some help, normally supplied by art dealers. --rpd (talk) 21:59, 3 March 2008 (UTC)