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Pablo Picasso - Maja et Celestine


Original sugar aquatint & Drypoint, Mouguins 27/5/1968 I , on Rives paper, signed by the artist in pencil

Edition: An unnumbered artist’s proof. Baer (The Catalogue Raisonne) states that there was a signed and numbered edition of 50 and 17 artists proofs of which this is one. Commonly Picasso did not annotate the artists proofs.


Bloch, Georges. 1968-1979. Pablo Picasso, catalogue de l'oeuvre gravé et lithographié, 4 vol. Berne: Kornfeld and Klipstein. (Bloch 1602)

Geiser, Bernhard and Brigitte Baer. 1986-1996. Picasso: Peintre-Graveur, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre gravé et des monotypes, 7 vols. Berne: Kornfeld. (Baer 1617.Bb2)

Printed by: Atelier Crommelynck

Published by: Galerie Louise Leiris in 1969.

Note: The 66 original etchings done for La Célestine are part of Picasso’s 347 Suite, a collection of 347 etchings and aquatints generated in a furious creative frenzy; the 87-year-old artist turned out etchings at the rate of virtually two a day between March 16th and October 5th 1968, a mere seven months.

The La Célestine suite are illustrations, or more accurately a response, to one of the most significant works in Spanish literature, properly known as La Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea, a dramatised novel written by Fernando de Rojas and published in Burgos in 1499. Picasso had been familiar with the work since adolescence and in later life he collected various rare editions. The tale revolves around Celestina, an aged matchmaker whose corruption knows no bounds as she resorts to pulling one ruse after another in order to further her position.The old procuress and her hedonistic band of prostitutes, corrupt servants, clerics, officials, swaggering pimps and courtiers inhabit scene after scene driven by gross self-interest. The bawdy lewdness of the La Célestine plot is evident from its beginning, as is its account of selfish human indulgence, and the reader is the voyeur of all their sordid dealings. The story tells of a bachelor, Calisto, who uses the old procuress and bawd Celestina to start an affair with Melibea, an unmarried girl kept in seclusion by her parents. Though the two use the rhetoric of costly love , sex — not marriage — is their aim. When he dies in an accident, she commits suicide. The La Celestine and Melibea can be seen together in our etching.

The copper plate was cancelled in 1979 and is held by the Musee Picasso, Paris, presented by Crommelynck.

Public Collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Provenance: 1) Ader Nordmann Auction Paris 2) French Collector.

Size: plate: 4 11/16 x 2 3/8 in. (11.9 x 6 cm); sheet: 12 13/16 x 10 in. (32.5 x 25.4 cm),

Framed 32 x 36 cms