Early Picasso could bring £1m at Bonhams

Picasso once said of Mark Chagall that 'When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is'.

It is no doubt partly for this reason that Chagall's vibrant La Revolution heads Bonhams sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on June 22 with an estimate of £1.2m-1.8m, ahead of Edvard Munch's enigmatic Madonna.

But Picasso himself is represented in the auction, with one of his early paintings on offer with a guide price of £700,000-1,000,000. The painting is a work in oils depicting a Catalan tailor, Mr Minguell, to whom Picasso was introduced by his friend and dealer Pedro Manach in 1901.

The painter, aged just 20, completed the painting of his new friend in Barcelona later that year.

Picasso obviously thought highly of the work as although it was originally handed over to Minguell as a gift (Picasso's work having little reputation or value at this stage), the artist later bought it back himself and it remained in his possession until his death in 1973.

He was unable to buy back many of his early sketches from this period, as he was so poor at the time that he burnt many of them to keep warm in the tiny flat he shared with poet and journalist Max Jacob, so they are distinctly rare.

Pablo Picasso Portrait of Mr Minguell
Pablo Picasso's Portrait of Mr Minguell

Edward Plackett, of Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art Department commented:

"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."

Bonhams auction takes place in London. A self-portrait by 'Picasso's muse' Francoise Gilot is currently on the market, and investors may wish to consider purchasing it as it is likely to increase in value given his ongoing fame.

Indeed Picasso appears unable to stay out of the news at the moment, with another theft of one of his works taking place on Sunday, following the theft of The Pigeon With Green Peas amongst other very valuable works from Musee d'Art Moderne in Paris.

The most recent theft was of a lithograph rather than a painting, taken from the home of a rich collector in Marseilles along with four other works. The thieves gained entry under false pretences and assaulted the owner.

Picasso's works are the most stolen in the world, as they are so valuable - his Nude, Green Leaves and Bust re-claiming the title of the most expensive artwork for its painter earlier this month from Giacometti - and he was prolific.


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