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Bonhams to Sell Haunting Picasso Portrait of the Artist’s Friend


Image:Pablo Picasso, “Le tailleur Minguell”. Estimate: £700,000-1,000,000. Photo: Sotheby’s.
n intimate portrait by Pablo Picasso of the artist’s friend Mr. Minguell is to feature in the Impressionist and Modern Art auction at Bonhams on Tuesday 22nd June, and is estimated to fetch £700,000-1,000,000.

The portrait shows Mr. Minguell, a Catalan tailor who was probably introduced to the artist on his visit to Paris in 1901 and who became a close friend. It was completed in Barcelona in the early summer of 1901, when the artist was just 20 years old and it is likely the pair had retreated from Paris for a holiday in their homeland. Shortly afterwards he gifted it to the tailor – an act of generosity he must have regretted, since he bought it back from Minguell years later. He then kept it with him in his private collection, indicating his strong personal attachment to it.

The painting is a very well executed classic portrait which was completed just before he embarked on his famous blue period – the blue background perhaps indicating his future direction. It harks back to the tradition of Spanish portraiture that originated with Goya and displays a similar intensity and muted, melancholy colours. It was painted at a time when Picasso was barely scraping a living as an artist. He was sharing an apartment in Paris with the journalist and poet Max Jacob, taking it in turns to sleep in a tiny room and often burning his sketches in order to keep warm. This frugal existence is reflected in the work itself which was painted in oil on cheap card, but has since been laid down on canvas to enhance its durability.

Edward Plackett, of Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art Department comments, “We’re thrilled to be offering such a fantastic work in our June auction. Many people associate Picasso with the signature modernist works for which he is best known, but this portrait shows an alternative, personal side to the artist as well as giving insight into his friendship with the tailor. It joins a line-up of other excellent works in our auction including paintings by Marc Chagall, Kees Van Dongen and Auguste Renoir.”

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