In 1931, thanks to the help of Jacqueline Apollinaire, a young Albert Skira, only 25 years old and upon the suggestion of Pierre Matisse, convinced Pablo Picasso to illustrate Ovid’s Metamorphoses with 30 etchings. The exceptional edition, in only 145 copies, was the first publication of the new-born Skira, and was soon followed by the Poems of Mallarmé with 29 original etchings by Henri Matisse and Les Chants de Maldoror illustrated by Salvador Dalí with 42 etchings. For the 90th anniversary of the publishing house, in agreement with the Picasso Estate, Skira issued an anastatic copy of the work, slightly different in format. The volume boasts 412 pages including the etchings both in (15) and outside the text (15).
The facsimile is perfect. The volume is in 24 x 30.5 cm format, it is a hardcover edition with paper foil stamping, just like the first edition in 1931. The work is contained in a box that, with the Metamorphoses, also bears an illustrated brochure narrating the birth and history of this legendary volume. Ovid’s Metamorphoses in 11,995 verses and 15 books gather and re-elaborate over 250 Greek myths. Thet have been called an “encyclopaedia of classical mythology”. Picasso’s etchings out of the text, focused on 15 myths, are of rare uniformity, in a style with clean edges and discrete eroticism. Instead, the etchings found at the start of the chapters do not relate to the text and portray faces, nude studies and a delightful litotes of the female body (27th etching). The book was printed on Picasso’s 50th birthday and was described by Christian Zervos as being “of almost Doric beauty”.
The anastatic copy is, like the original edition, in French, with an introduction text in English.