Lysistrata, By Aristophanes; A New Version by Gilbert Seldes; With a Special Introduction by Mr. Seldes; and Illustrations by Pablo Picasso. New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1934.
Call Number: (RARE) PA 3877 .L8 1934
Gift of Loryn Romadka, from the collection of Austin F. Lutter.
Special Collections, Golda Meir Library
This limited edition of 1500 copies marks the only American publication with original etchings by Pablo Picasso. It is signed by the artist. Many scholars feel his etchings in this volume are among his most important in the classical style.
This edition contains the translation of Gilbert Seldes who translated the text for a stage revival. His production, which played in Philadelphia and New York was very controversial due to its bawdy nature.
Because Picasso delivered his illustrations six months late, the planned printing in Paris could not be undertaken and The Limited Editions Club printed the volume at their own printing shop in Westport, Connecticut.
George Macy wrote of this edition:
To illustrate Lysistrata, Picasso has given us six etched copperplates and forty pencil drawings. Each plate, each drawing, bears witness to his mastery of method and technique. His line is sure, confident; it cries out to the world that the man who drew it knows what he was about. And the line is pure, it is that sort of line of which even the Greeks used to say that this is "pure Grecian line."
Anticipating the reaction of the largely conservative-minded club members, Macy also wrote:
... All of [the illustrations] are done with utmost simplicity, a simplicity so great that we can already visualize letters from some of our members proclaiming the fact that they gave children of six who can do better. On behalf of Pablo Picasso, we ask you to remember that simplicity is not necessarily infantile!
As Macy predicted, response to Picasso's work was indeed mixed. Among comments received by the Club were: "Woe is me! Was I terribly disappointed when my copy of Lysistrata reached me! The etchings are so crude! so unfinished!" and "What a shame to ruin the beautiful printing and the delightful paper with such miserable drawings... I feel wonderment that he can sell such stuff."