Les Femmes d'Alger

Last updated
Les Femmes d'Alger (Version O)
English: The Women of Algiers
Les femmes d'Alger, Picasso, version O.jpg
Artist Pablo Picasso
Year1955 (1955)
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions114 cm× 146.4 cm(45 in× 57.6 in)
LocationPrivate collection of Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, Doha, Qatar

Les Femmes d'Alger ("Women of Algiers") is a series of 15 paintings and numerous drawings by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. The series, created in 1954–1955, was inspired by Eugène Delacroix's 1834 painting The Women of Algiers in their Apartment (French : Femmes d'Alger dans leur appartement). [1] The series is one of several painted by Picasso in tribute to artists that he admired. [2]

Pablo Picasso 20th-century Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer

Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright who spent most of his adult life in France. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), and Guernica (1937), a dramatic portrayal of the bombing of Guernica by the German and Italian airforces during the Spanish Civil War.

Eugène Delacroix 19th-century French painter

Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school.

<i>Women of Algiers</i> painting by Eugène Delacroix

Women of Algiers in their Apartment is the title of two oil on canvas paintings by the French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix.


The entire series of Les Femmes d'Alger was bought by Victor and Sally Ganz from the Galerie Louise Leiris in Paris for $212,500 in June 1956 (equivalent to $2.0 million in 2018). [3] Ten paintings from the series were later sold by the Ganz's to the Saidenberg Gallery, with the couple keeping versions "C", "H", "K", "M" and "O". [4]

Victor Wendell Ganz (1913–1987) was an American business owner and art collector. He was the president of D. Lisner & Company, a small costume jewelry manufacturer. With limited resources he and his wife Sally Wile-Ganz built one of the most important collections of contemporary art in the 20th century. They became known for their ability to choose art, as "collectors who never made a mistake". Their collection was sold after their deaths in record-setting auctions.

Galerie Louise Leiris was a fine art gallery in Paris established by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler in 1920.

Many of the individual paintings in the series are now in prominent public and private collections.


Eugene Delacroix, The Women of Algiers in their Apartment, 1834. Oil on canvas. 180 x 229cm. Louvre, Paris. WomenofAlgiers.JPG
Eugène Delacroix, The Women of Algiers in their Apartment, 1834. Oil on canvas. 180 × 229cm. Louvre, Paris.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Parisiennes in Algerian Costume , 1872. Oil on canvas. 156 x 129cm. National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Also inspired by Delacroix's Women of Algiers. Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Parisiennes in Algerian Costume or Harem - Google Art Project.jpg
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Parisiennes in Algerian Costume , 1872. Oil on canvas. 156 × 129cm. National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Also inspired by Delacroix's Women of Algiers.

In December 1954, Picasso began to paint a series of free variations on Delacroix's The Women of Algiers in their Apartment (Les Femmes d'Alger). He began his first version (cat. 19) six weeks after learning of the death of his lifelong friend and rival Henri Matisse—and so, for Picasso, the "oriental" subject of this series of paintings held strong associations with Matisse as well as with Delacroix. Matisse had been famous for his images of languid, voluptuous women known as odalisques —the French form of the Turkish word for women in a harem. "When Matisse died he left his odalisques to me as a legacy," joked Picasso. Many of Picasso's portrayals of Jacqueline circa 1955–56 represent her in this guise (cat. 9). [5]

Henri Matisse French artist

Henri Émile Benoît Matisse was a French artist, known for both his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter. Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso, as one of the artists who best helped to define the revolutionary developments in the visual arts throughout the opening decades of the twentieth century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture.

Odalisque Female slave or concubine in an Ottoman seraglio

An odalisque was a chambermaid or a female attendant in a Turkish seraglio, particularly the court ladies in the household of the Ottoman sultan.

The consequences of Picasso's Femmes d'Alger series were far-reaching: "I thought so much about Les Femmes d'Alger that I bought La Californie," Picasso explained to his biographer Pierre Daix. La Californie is a Belle Époque villa situated in the foothills of Cannes in the South of France, where Picasso spent his last decades. Picasso bought it in 1955, and it was here that he painted the Nude in a Rocking-Chair (cat. 16). The light-filled interiors, the views over the Mediterranean and the exotic garden evoked a feeling of spaciousness and ease which corresponded to Picasso's idea of the Orient.[ citation needed ]

<i>Belle Époque</i> period in European history, 1871 to 1914

The Belle Époque or La Belle Époque was a period of Western history. It is conventionally dated from the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Occurring during the era of the French Third Republic, it was a period characterized by optimism, regional peace, economic prosperity, an apex of colonial empires, and technological, scientific, and cultural innovations. In the climate of the period, especially in Paris, the arts flourished. Many masterpieces of literature, music, theater, and visual art gained recognition. The Belle Époque was named in retrospect when it began to be considered a "Golden Age" in contrast to the horrors of World War I. The Belle Epoque was a period in which, according to historian R.R. Palmer, "European civilization achieved its greatest power in global politics, and also exerted its maximum influence upon peoples outside Europe."

Cannes Commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Cannes is a city located on the French Riviera. It is a commune located in the Alpes-Maritimes department, and host city of the annual Cannes Film Festival, Midem, and Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The city is known for its association with the rich and famous, its luxury hotels and restaurants, and for several conferences. On 3 November 2011 it also played host to the G20 organisation of industrialised nations.

The art historian and collector Douglas Cooper was perhaps the first to realise that the paintings done at La Californie marked a return to Picasso's peak form. In April 1956, he wrote to the curator Alfred H. Barr Jr.:

(Arthur William) Douglas Cooper, who also published as Douglas Lord was a British art historian, art critic and art collector. He mainly collected Cubist works.

Alfred Hamilton Barr Jr. was an American art historian and the first director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. From that position, he was one of the most influential forces in the development of popular attitudes toward modern art; for example, his arranging of the blockbuster Van Gogh exhibition of 1935, in the words of author Bernice Kert, was "a precursor to the hold Van Gogh has to this day on the contemporary imagination."

I recently spent the day with Picasso and went through most of what he has done since last July. I have been greatly impressed...A whole series of interiors of La Californie deriving half from Delacroix half from Matisse—great emphasis on ornament, arabesque, simplification...In short, as you are planning to come to Europe, this is a word to tell you that you must see all this in the studio: it is to my mind much better than anything since 1946.[ citation needed ]

List of notable works

"Version C"

"Version C" was sold in 1988 following Victor Ganz's death. [4]

"Version H"

"Version H" was completed on 24 January 1955, and was in sold for $7.15 million in November 1997, as part of the Ganz collection, at Christie's in New York. [6] It is part of the Nahmad Collection in Switzerland. In May 2015, it was on loan to Tate Liverpool, England. [7]

"Version J"

"Version J" was sold at Sotheby's in London in 2006 for $18.6 million and is part of the Nahmad Collection. [8]

"Version K"

"Version K" sold for $6.6 million in November 1997, as part of the Ganz collection, at Christie's in New York. [9]

"Version L"

"Version L" was bought by the Berggruen Museum in Berlin in 2011 for $11.4 million. [10] [11]

"Version M"

"Version M" sold for $10 million in November 1997, as part of the Ganz collection, at Christie's in New York. [9]

"Version N"

"Version N" is held by the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis, and was bought by the Steinberg Fund, for the university, in 1960. [12]

"Version O"

"Version O", the final painting in the series, was painted in 1955. [1]

The painting sold for $31.9 million in November 1997, as part of the Ganz collection, at Christie's in New York. Three other versions in the series owned by the Ganz family were also auctioned at the same time. "Version O" was bought, by the British art dealer Libby Howie, for an undisclosed Saudi Arabian collector living in London. [13]

"Version O" was auctioned at Christie's New York for a second time in May 2015, and was expected to set a world record price for a work of art at auction. [1] A pre-sale valuation of $140 million was placed by Christie's on the painting, one of the highest ever placed on an auctioned artwork. The most expensive work of art to previously sell at auction, Francis Bacon's painting Three Studies of Lucian Freud , had sold for $142.4 million against a pre-sale estimate of c.$85 million in 2013. An undisclosed reserve price had also been placed on the painting prior to the sale. [14] The painting was sold for $179.4 million including fees, a record price for a painting at auction. [15] It was bought by the former Qatari prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani. [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

The year 1955 in art involved some significant events and new works.

The year 1954 in art involved some significant events and new works.

Ryoei Saito was the honorary chairman of Daishowa Paper Manufacturing in Japan.

<i>Femme aux Bras Croisés</i> painting by Pablo Picasso

Femme aux Bras Croisés, is a painting by Pablo Picasso done in 1902 during his Blue Period. The subject of the painting is unknown, but she may be an inmate of the Saint-Lazare hospital-prison in Paris.

<i>Le Rêve</i> (Picasso) Le Rêve is a 1932 oil painting by Pablo Picasso

Le Rêve is a 1932 oil painting by Pablo Picasso, then 50 years old, portraying his 22-year-old mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter. It is said to have been painted in one afternoon, on 24 January 1932. It belongs to Picasso's period of distorted depictions, with its oversimplified outlines and contrasted colors resembling early Fauvism.

David Nahmad is a billionaire retired fine art dealer. A descendant of a Jewish Lebanese art family residing in Monaco and a cousin of the late Edmond Safra, he and his relations are perhaps the single biggest buying force in fine art.

<i>Water Lilies</i> (Monet series) series of approximately 250 paintings by Claude Monet

Water Lilies is a series of approximately 250 oil paintings by French Impressionist Claude Monet (1840–1926). The paintings depict his flower garden at his home in Giverny, and were the main focus of his artistic production during the last thirty years of his life. Many of the works were painted while Monet suffered from cataracts.

Women of Algiers in Their Apartment French: Femmes d'Alger dans leur Appartement is a 1980 novel by the Algerian writer Assia Djebar. It is a collection of short stories celebrating the strength and dignity of Algerian women of the past and the present. It interweaves the stories of the lives of three Muslim Algerian women. Assia Djebar's inspiration to write Femmes d'Alger dans leur appartement came from Delacroix's painting The Women of Algiers.

The Villa La Californie is a series of paintings by the English artist, Damian Elwes. They link together to describe almost the entire ground floor of the Picasso's Villa La Californie in Cannes, southern France.

<i>Nude, Green Leaves and Bust</i> painting by Pablo Picasso

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust is a 1932 painting by Pablo Picasso, featuring his mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter.

Frances Lasker Brody American philanthropist

Frances Lasker Brody (1916–2009) was an American arts advocate, collector, and philanthropist who influenced the development of Los Angeles' cultural life as a founding benefactor of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and later as a guiding patron of the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Gardens.

The Berggruen Museum is a collection of modern art classics in Berlin, which the collector and dealer Heinz Berggruen, in a "gesture of reconciliation", gave to his native city. The most notable artists on display include Pablo Picasso, Giambattista Pittoni, Alberto Giacometti, Georges Braque, Paul Klee and Henri Matisse. The Berggruen Collection is part of the National Gallery of Berlin.

<i>Grande tête mince</i> sculpture by Alberto Giacometti

Grande tête mince is a bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti. The work was conceived in 1954 and cast the following year. Auctioned in 2010, Grande tête mince became one of the most valuable sculptures ever sold when it fetched $53.3 million.

<i>Three Studies of Lucian Freud</i> 1969 triptych by Francis Bacon

Three Studies of Lucian Freud is a 1969 oil-on-canvas triptych by the Irish-born British painter Francis Bacon, depicting artist Lucian Freud. It was sold in November 2013 for US$142.4 million, which at the time was the highest price attained at auction for a work of art when not factoring in inflation. That record was surpassed in May 2015 by Version O of Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger series.

<i>Parisian Women in Algerian Costume (The Harem)</i> painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Parisian Women in Algerian Costume , sometimes known as Interior of a Harem in Montmartre , is a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, completed 1872, which Renoir created in homage to Eugène Delacroix's Women of Algiers in their Apartment. It was rejected for entry to the 1872 Paris Salon, disliked by the artist and eventually sold for a small sum as part of a larger lot. It is now in the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo.

Helly Nahmad is an American art dealer and art collector. In 2000 he founded the Helly Nahmad Gallery in Manhattan, New York, which holds several fine art exhibitions each year featuring artists such as Pablo Picasso, Chaim Soutine, Francis Bacon, and Giorgio de Chirico.


  1. 1 2 3 Mark Brown (10 April 2015). "Van Gogh, Picasso and others go on display before New York sales jamboree". The Guardian . Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  2. Picasso: Challenging the Past National Gallery p 109-114
  3. "Pablo Picasso - Les femmes d'Alger (Version "O")". Christie's . Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  4. 1 2 "Christie's to Offer Picasso's Iconic Masterpiece of the 1950s" (PDF). Christie's . Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  5. "Matisse Picasso: room guide, room 12". tate.org.uk.
  6. "Pablo Picasso - Les femmes d'Alger (Version "H")". Christie's . Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  7. "Picasso: Peace and Freedom: Room 5: The Women of Algiers". Tate. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  8. Colin Gleadell (28 November 2006). "Market news: Elizabethan portraiture, Peter Doig, Picasso and more". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  9. 1 2 Walter Robinson. "Ganz sale results". Artnet . Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  10. Kate Connolly (7 June 2013). "Pablo Picasso works draw art world to Berlin". The Guardian . Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  11. "International Council - Museum Berggruen". Museum Berggruen. International Council - Museum Berggruen. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  12. "Les femmes d'Alger (Women of Algiers), Variation "N"". Kemper Art Museum. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  13. Prized Picasso Leads the Ganz Collection to a Record Auction of $206 Million, New York Times, November 11, 1997
  14. Scott Rayburn (10 April 2015). "A Picasso Is the Center of Attention at Christie's Auction". The New York Times . Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  15. "Picasso's Women of Algiers smashes auction record". BBC News Online . 12 May 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  16. Sherwell, Philip (21 May 2015). "Billionaire Qatari sheikh 'identified' as secret buyer of world record Picasso". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 May 2015.