Le Cocu magnifique, farce en trois actes was presented for the first time on December 18, 1920 at the Théâtre de la Maison de l’oeuvre on the rue de Clichy in Paris, with R. Camier and Lugné-Poe in the principal roles. The text of the play was published in 1921 by Éditions de la Sirène. It tells the story of a jealous man, Bruno, who -- because of his very jealousy -- ends by losing his wife, Stella. Despite the amusing dialogue, one soon realizes that this “farce” is not funny and that Crommelynck is not mocking the problems of his characters. Bruno is the kind of man who only sees an enemy in the other sex (instead of seeing a complement); he seeks to master, to possess a woman, but he can never attain this dominance because the female soul eludes him. Frustrated, he becomes aggressive and violent, and happiness is denied to him. Because he cannot bear Stella’s love, he will in the end be cuckolded.
Picasso knew Fernand Crommelynck and had for a long time intended to illustrate this play. In the 1940s he had met the playwright’s son, Aldo, who was working in Roger Lacourière’s printing shop. In 1963, Aldo and his brother, Piero, opened their own atelier for engraving at Mougins; it was here that the large suites of engravings Picasso did in his last years were printed. And it was the “Éditions de l’Atelier Crommelynck” that published this album, in 1968, two years before Fernand Crommelynck’s death. To illustrate Le Cocu magnifique, Picasso created scenes with characters from his own personal mythology. Thus the cuckold, or “the horned one”, is associated with the Minotaur, or “bull man”; in his old age, his lasciviousness becomes a farce without being amusing. Picasso’s manner of staging Le Cocu magnifique, like Crommelynck’s is untrammeled and without repression. The twelve engravings -- four for each of the three acts -- are part of a series of about 65 which Picasso created between November 6th and December 19th, 1966.
Pablo Picasso is arguably the most discussed, exhibited, and influential artist of the 20th Century. Together with Georges Bracques, he founded the Cubist movement, and continued to dominate the trajectory of Modern art through his long life.
This work is part of a carefully curated selection by noted fine art expert Jennifer McCloskey, who was formerly affiliated with Doyle Gallery in New York and is now based in San Francisco. If you have questions about any of the works in this selection, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.