The McNay Art Museum announced the addition of two important paintings to its collection of works by the great 20th-century Spanish master, Pablo Picasso (1881–1973). Both come as a bequest of McNay emerita trustee Jeanne Lang Mathews from the collection she and her husband, Irving Mathews, formed over many years.
The earlier of the two, Reclining Woman on the Beach, is one of Picasso’s many paintings of the female form painted at Boisgeloup in 1932. According to Picasso scholar Pepe Karmel, the 1932 Mathews painting is one of several that the scholar characterizes as “a series of miniature variations on the great erotic nudes of 1932, one of the high points of the artist’s career.” (Click HERE to learn more about a Distinguished Lecture by Karmel.)
Inspired by Picasso’s then-companion Marie-Therèse Walter, the 1932 Mathews painting is a small variant of The Dreamer, which was on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York until August 1, in the major exhibition Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A related work of the same year, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, recently sold at auction at a record price for the artist.
The second painting from the Mathews bequest is Crouching Woman of 1958. According to Karmel, it is an exceptionally good Picasso of this later period and is closely related to sheet-metal sculptures Picasso made, which were the focus of the 2009 exhibition Picasso’s Late Sculpture: Women: The Collection in Context at the Museo Picasso in Malaga, Spain.
Adding greater range and depth to the McNay’s holdings of Picasso, the two paintings join masterworks from Mrs. McNay’s collection: an early Madrid painting, Woman with a Plumed Hat of 1901; and the seminal Cubist collage Guitar and Wine Glass of 1912. The much-loved Portrait of Sylvette, 1954, came from the estate of Tom Slick. The total Picasso holdings of the museum number over 90 works, including paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and ceramics.
This bequest builds on a long tradition of generosity to the McNay begun by Jeanne Lang Mathews’s parents, Mary and Sylvan Lang. Jeanne and her husband, Irving Mathews, continued as long-time benefactors of the museum, donating works of art that will now hang along side those given by her parents. The two Picassos are on view
in the Lang Galleries at the McNay.