Impression: Very fine
Condition: Flawless; framed
There could be no better fit between text and illustrator than a story of transformation, the very hallmark of Picasso's art. The thirty wonderful and deceptively simple portraits that comprise this series include fifteen half-length portraits which illustrated the chapter titles and bore no specific relationship to the text. The full-length works did however closely correspond to the narrative, which was unusual in Picasso's illustrated books. This series was created contemporaneously with the earliest prints of the Vollard Suite, with which it shares the simple elegance of the artist's neoclassical style. This particular image is easily the most beautiful and the most interesting, and is also one of the two most important works, of the series.
Albert Skira was just starting out in the publishing business when he decided to shoot for the stars and ask Picasso to illustrate a book for him. Picasso agreed but was at a loss as to which book to choose to illustrate. After some time, Picasso related a dream to Pierre Matisse, the artist's son, in which women were transformed into fish. Pierre seminally proposed that Picasso illustrate Ovid's Metamorphoses. For his fiftieth birthday on October 25, 1931, Picasso received the first proof of this book from Skira.
This impression is particularly rare because it combines three features, each of which is rare in this edition in its own right: the signature, the japan paper, and the remarque in the lower right corner (a "doodle" that Picasso added to the plate after the edition of 145).