Image: 53.1 x 64 cm (20 7/8 x 25 3/16 in.)
© Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
John L. Severance Fund 1984.61
Catalogue raisonné: Bloch I.231.1101
In 1958 at the age of 77, Picasso executed his first great multicolored linocut, Portrait of a Lady, after Cranach the Younger, for which he cut six linoleum blocks, one for each color. Each block had to be carefully aligned in succession. Finding this a laborious process, Picasso devised an entirely new method that he used for 147 linocuts executed by 1968. Picasso's innovation was to use a single block to print all of the colors, cutting out more of the design from the block for each color. To create Still Life Under a Lamp, he first printed the uncut block in white on 80 sheets of paper (the edition was 50 but some sheets would be ruined in the printing process) because the other colors print better over a layer of clear ink. Then the few areas that were to remain white were cut away, the surface of the block was inked in yellow, and the block was printed. Next, the areas to remain yellow were cut away, and the block, inked with red, was printed over the yellow. Proceeding in this manner, the green and black were also added in succession. This is a daring method: if a mistake is made at the end of the process, the entire edition is ruined.
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