Portrait de Gongora Vingt Poemes illustrated by Picasso

Interest in the work of Luis de Gongora y Argote, who was born in Cordoba in 1561, revived at the beginning of the 20th century, particularly on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of his death, when Garcia Lorca hailed him "the father of modern poetry". Gongora's poetry, which is difficult because of the poet's charged, decorative style, his use of Latin syntax, and his deliberately illogical choice of metaphor, was rediscovered during the period of Surrealism, which can in many respects, be considered a rebirth of baroque mannerism.

In 1928, "Editions Cahiers d'Art" had published 20 sonnets by Gongora, translated into French by Zdislas Milner and illustrated with drawings by Ismael G. de la Serna. This book of poems and illustrations was put together by an association of bibliophiles, who sometimes called themselves "Editions Les Livres Mervilleux".

Picasso shared his contemporary's admiration for El Greco's paintings and Gongora's poetry. Having discovered that same year - the aesthetics of handwriting while working on Chants des Morts, which was handwritten by Reverdy, Picasso copied Gongora's 20 sonnets - in Spanish - which had been chosen by Milner, and then decorated them richly with remarques. Each poem is preceded by a full page etching: 19 heads of women, a veritable feminine kaleidoscope. For the first sonnet, Picasso drew the poet's portrait after a painting done by the young Velazquez in 1622. To illustrate this book, Picasso used the lift ground process he so thoroughly explored during his work on the illustrations he did for Buffon. Here, however, he worked the plates directly - without retouchs, without tonal superimpositions, using neither scraper nor burnisher - instead of placing the plates twice in acid to achieve first the gray, then the black tones; he drew directly on the plates - sometimes with brush sometimes with pen. For the cover, which was done at Golfe-Jaun on March 9, 1948, Picasso wrote Gongora's name with a brush in imitation of the poet's style of writing. For the watermark, he also used the poet's name, this time with an arabesque above the initial.


This portfolio was printed on September 30, 1948. The text and Typography was printed by Frequet et Baudier, Paris, and the etchings ere printed by Roger Lacourier, Paris.


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