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Sotileza [Subtlety] About 1928

Not on display

This is one of Picabia's 'Transparency' paintings, in which several different images are layered on top of one another. There are three interpenetrating but distinct layers: the Spanish lady in a lace mantilla depicted in a deliberately kitsch style; an outline drawing of a matador in full costume; and a simplified representation of a Madonna, crowned in the Catalan Romanesque style. The obvious connecting link between all three figures is their Spanishness. Picabia's father was Spanish. The layering of images may be intended to provide the visual equivalent to memory and the stream of consciousness. The combination of apparently opposing styles and themes is typical of Picabia's work.

Glossary Open


A lightweight lace or silk scarf traditionally worn by women in Spain and Latin America. It is worn over the head and shoulders, often over a high comb.

Romanesque art

The art of Western Europe from the 10th to the 12th centuries. The term is usually associated with architecture of the period with its use of the rounded arch.

Mantilla, Romanesque art


  • Acc. No. GMA 4074
  • Medium Gouache on paper
  • Size 75.70 x 55.70 cm
  • Credit Bequeathed by Gabrielle Keiller 1995