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Still Life with a Bottle, Playing Cards, and a Wineglass on a Table

Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, Spanish, 1881 - 1973

Made in Avignon, France, Europe


Oil, sand, and graphite on sketch board, mounted on cradled wood panel

12 1/2 x 16 7/8 inches (31.8 x 42.9 cm) Framed: 18 1/4 × 22 1/4 × 2 3/8 inches (46.4 × 56.5 × 6 cm)

© Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
A. E. Gallatin Collection, 1952

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This relatively small painting on sketch board is a masterpiece of restraint. The colors are sober, and their relationships are established by the dark brown paint of the background and the reddish-brown varnish of the flattened tabletop, whose wood-graining effect was created by dragging a comb through the wet paint. The still-life arrangement on the table consists of a darkly shadowed bottle on the left, whose drab color and sand-encrusted texture contrast with the cheerful gaiety of the fluted wineglass and the box of JOB cigarette rolling papers on the right, as well as the five brightly patterned playing cards that hover mysteriously above the table.

Additional information:
  • PublicationMasterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art

    Created while Picasso was vacationing in Avignon, this painting documents the radical change that took place in the artist's Cubist style during the latter half of 1912. It was then that Picasso and Georges Braque moved away from the illusionistic space of Analytic Cubism to concentrate more freely on the physical aspects of constructing a painting. Utilizing an approach that has come to be called Synthetic Cubism, the two artists integrated recognizable subjects (often with the aid of papier collé) with new textures and a brighter color palette, purposefully revealing the flat, "synthetic" construction of their compositions. In this work, ordinary objects are transformed into items of intrigue. While the static bottle on the left is painted with little detail, the wineglass on the right is seen in four separate meticulously rendered views, so that it seems virtually to wobble on the table. The playing cards, the lavender ribbon, and the box of cigarette papers mysteriously hover above a table that tilts toward the viewer, its decorative edge practically bursting through the picture plane. As a means to balance the composition, the extremely flat quality of certain objects is playfully juxtaposed against vivid patterning, most notably the wood grain that Picasso "combed" into the surface of the table. Melissa Kerr, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 118.