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    Sale 7601

    Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper

    25 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 262

    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

    Picasso et Junyer au café

    Price Realised  

    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
    Picasso et Junyer au café
    signed 'Picasso' (at a later date; lower left)
    wax crayons on paper
    9¾ x 12 7/8 in. (25 x 32.9 cm.)
    Executed circa 1903-1904


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    Picasso et Junyer au café was produced during Picasso's final stay in his homeland before returning to Paris for good. During these last fifteen months in Barcelona, Picasso enjoyed the close friendship and patronage of Sebastièa and Carles Junyer Vidal. Carles was a writer, who actively promoted Picasso's work in his newspaper El Liberal, and Sebastià was an artist and habitué of the legendary Café Els Quatre Gats. Having inherited a prosperous fabrics business, the brothers were undoubtedly wealthy and the impoverished Picasso was only too happy to accept their hospitality and occasional financial assistance in return for paintings and drawings. Sebastià was the elder of the two brothers and the one with whom Picasso felt most affinity. He is depicted in over twenty sketches and two oils portraits (one in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the other in Museo Picasso, Barcelona), with many of the sketches placing him in humorous and often bawdy situations.

    In this deftly rendered sketch of a night time café scene, the young artist extends a theme that frequently occupied him throughout this period. The diverse cross-section of social, political, professional and working class groups Picasso encountered in Barcelona's cafés and bordellos provided him with a vast array of subjects to depict and the present work casts himself and his companion Sebastià as the protagonists of the scene. Executed in short, concise strokes of the pencil, which are then shaded in to capture the dim light of the evening, the friends are seen huddled within a dingy establishment, watched over by a shadowy figure in a cape and hood. This elusive figure has been linked to Picasso's celebrated Blue Period portrait of Carlota Valdivia, portrayed as The Procuress or La Celestina, (Musée Picasso, Paris). The connection between this drawing and the portrait has been made clear through another coloured pencil sketch of the same period (Z. I, 191), which features a playful portrayal of Junyer Vidal and Valdivia alongside a young woman, whom the half-blind procuress has presumably secured for his entertainment. Palau i Fabre argues that this series of related works dates from early 1904, shortly before Picasso travelled with Sebastià to Paris, a trip that was recorded in a sequence of ink caricature drawings in which the pair are dressed in a similar fashion to the present work, (Musée Picasso, Paris). Sebastià returned to Barcelona shortly afterwards to assist with his brother's newspaper and the pair began to lose touch of one another, yet the images he retained of his time with Picasso leave a lasting legacy of their friendship.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Provenance

    Junyer Vidal, Barcelona.
    Anonymous sale, Galerie Motte, Geneva, 18 November 1961, lot 186.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN COLLECTION


    Literature

    A. Cirici Pellicer, Picasso antes de Picasso, Barcelona, 1946, no. 179 (illustrated).
    (Probably) C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, vol. 6, Supplément aux volumes 1 à 5, Paris, 1954, no. 480 (illustrated. The reproduced photograph is of poor quality. It shows an old signature at the lower left, now faded).
    J. Palau i Fabre, Picasso Vivo (1881-1907), Barcelona, 1980, no. 956 (illustrated; the signature described as being posthumous).


    Exhibited

    London, O'Hana Gallery, Summer Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, June - September 1963, no. 27.
    Geneva, Musée de l'Athénée, Exposition Picasso, July - September 1963, no. 7 (illustrated).