Pablo Picasso, “Harlequin Head,” 1971
Content and Context
Picasso is a Spanish painter who is widely acknowledged to be the most important artist of the 20th century. He experimented with a wide range of styles and themes in his long career, and inspired cubism. His artworks look somewhat fragmented and not realistic.
Picasso's Rose Period is characterized by a more cheery style with orange and pink colors, and featuring many acrobats and harlequins. The harlequin, a comedic character usually depicted in checkered patterned clothing, became a personal symbol for Picasso. Picasso met Fernande Olivier, a model for sculptors and artists, in Paris in 1904, and many of these paintings are influenced by his warm relationship with her, in addition to his increased exposure to French painting. This painting was probably created in this period as it depicts a harlequin with an abstracted face and bright colors.
This painting was one of 8 that was stolen in the Netherlands by a group of fast theives. The woman who ended up with the paintings buried them then later burned them when police were searching her village. This was the biggest art theft in more than a decade in the Netherlands. The stolen works have an estimated value of tens of millions of dollars if they were sold at auction.
The police and investigators are looking in to the ashes in her stove to determine if they really were the paintings, but it seems highly probable. The thieves that originally stole the pieces did it for the massive value of the artwork.