Man with a Guitar, 1915, printed 1929
engraving and drypoint on laid japan paper
28 x 18.8 cm; plate: 15.5 x 11.5 cm
Gift of Robert W. and Stephanie McCandless Reford, Nova Scotia, 2008
National Gallery of Canada (no. 42510)
Picasso was a prodigious printmaker, and he frequently turned to the themes of the guitar and the guitar player, important for their autobiographical content and inflecting his art with a Spanish identity. In this engraving, there is an intriguing blend of the earlier analytic and later synthetic Cubist styles that challenge the viewer's sense of three-dimensional space and true angle of vision. The print is extraordinary in Picasso's graphic work for having been worked through nine identifiable states. The 1915 date has been arrived at through stylistic considerations of the first state. It is likely that final printing of the plate was disrupted by the war, and was taken up again in 1929. The print successfully emulates the range of tonal scales of his paintings, from the blacks of the hatched areas, to the deep grey of the plate tone, to the white planes of untouched paper.