NABOKV-L post 0018752, Mon, 9 Nov 2009 13:49:22 -0200

[ NABOKOV-L] Pierrot and Harlequin by Picasso
Harlequin with Violin (Si Tu Veux), 1918

Picasso painted this large, Cubist composition at Montrouge during the final year of World War I. It depicts a figure holding a violin and presenting a sheet of music titled Si Tu Veux (If You Like).

The figure's black hat, domino mask, and diamond-patterned costume identify him as Harlequin, a comic character from the Italian Commedia dell'arte. In Picasso's time, circus and street performers also wore Harlequin costumes. Because Picasso repeatedly portrayed himself as Harlequin, scholars speculate that this painting may be associated with the artist's marriage to the Russian ballerina Olga Kokhlova in June 1918.

Several changes around the figure's head reveal that Picasso has merged Harlequin's black, trifold hat with the white conical hat of Pierrot, another character from Commedia della'arte. Because Picasso associated his friend, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, with Pierrot, this painting may refer simultaneously to Apollinaire's marriage to Jacqueline Kolb in May 1918. The combined Harlequin-Pierrot in this painting might be interpreted, then, as the artist-poet indicating his consent to abandon his unattached, bohemian lifestyle for love.

CMA Exhibition Feature : Harlequin with Violin (Si Tu Veux), 1918 -

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