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    Sale 12145

    Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

    16 November 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 3 B

    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

    Portrait de Renart

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
    Portrait de Renart
    signed ‘P. Ruiz P.’ (upper left)
    oil on canvas
    18 ¼ x 15 in. (44.5 x 38 cm.)
    Painted in Barcelona, 1899


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    Picasso was just seventeen years old, but increasingly forceful and independent, when he painted this elegant portrait of his fellow artist Dionís Renart as a brooding dandy. He had returned home to Barcelona in February 1899 after a stint at the prestigious but stiflingly traditional Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, where several of his father’s cronies had kept close tabs on him, and he was now determined to forge his own way. He refused to re-enroll at La Llotja, where his father taught, and instead joined the avant-garde circle of Catalan modernistes who gathered at the cabaret Els Quatre Gats. “The work done over the next few months reveals an astonishingly rapid advance not just in acuity of observation and technique but in drama and style,” John Richardson has written. “Everything has more of an edge to it” (A Life of Picasso, vol. I, London, 1991, p. 109).
    Within weeks of returning to Barcelona, Picasso had procured a tiny studio in an apartment belonging to the painter Santiago Cardona, a friend from La Llotja, and his brother Josep, a sculptor. In lieu of rent, Picasso gave his generous hosts a large canvas that depicts a dapper Josep Cardona seated at a writing desk (Zervos, vol. 1, no. 6). Elsewhere in the building was a corset workshop, as Picasso’s life-long friend Jaime Sabartès later recalled, run by the Cardonas’ mother. “Sometimes, in spare moments, Picasso took pleasure in operating the machine for punching eyelets. Then he would go to his room to draw and paint, paint and draw incessantly” (quoted in P. Daix and G. Boudaille, op. cit., 1967, p. 106).
    Picasso produced the present portrait in the bustling Cardona studio during these heady months of youthful discovery in the earlier part of 1899, before the artist decamped for his friend Ramon Pichot’s more spacious quarters. The rakish-looking subject, Dionís Renart, was a sculptor three years Picasso’s senior, who had studied at La Llotja as well. Picasso painted him in a stiff-collared shirt and a floppy bow tie, endowing the striving young artist with a cosmopolitan allure. The sitter is lit theatrically from the left, creating strong shadows that accentuate his chiseled cheekbones, heavy brow, and deep-set eyes. The painting melds the bravura manner of a fashionable portraitist with the moody symbolist effects then in vogue among the Catalan avant-garde.
    This expressive characterization of Renart inaugurated a running series of portraits that chronicle the various painters, poets, and hangers-on who made up Picasso’s tertulia at the time. The majority of these are in charcoal, with oil reserved for only a few intimates such as Àngel de Soto and Carles Casagemas. In February 1900, Picasso showed a large group of the paper portraits–a veritable gallery of Barcelona’s bohemians–in the Sala Gran of Els Quatre Gats, the first solo exhibition of his career. For the young modernista, it was an exceptionally propitious start to the new century, which he more than any artist would come to personify.

    Provenance

    Josép Cardona, Barcelona.
    Private collection, Spain (until 1951).
    O'Hana Gallery, London (by 1966).
    Galerie de l'Elysée (Alex Maguy), Paris.
    Private collection, Sweden (by 1967).
    Anon. sale, Stockholms Auktionsverk, Stockholm, 22 October 2014, lot 749.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN


    Literature

    "Una obra de Picasso pintada en Barcelona en 1897" in Destino, 23 November 1957, p. 39 (illustrated; dated 1897).
    P. Daix and G. Boudaille, Picasso, The Blue and Rose Periods, A Catalogue Raisonné, 1900-1906, London, 1967, p. 108, no. I.4 (illustrated).
    C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1969, vol. 21, no. 84 (illustrated, pl. 37).
    The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture: Picasso in the Nineteenth Century, Youth in Spain II, 1897-1900, San Francisco, 2008, p. 182, no. 1899-155 (illustrated).


    Exhibited

    Barcelona, Sala Parés, Quatre Gats, May 1954, p. 60, no. 56.
    Bordeaux, Museé des Beaux-Arts, La peinture française en Suède: hommage à Alexandre Roslin et à Adolf-Ulrik Wertmüller, May-September 1967, p. 78, no. 90 (illustrated, pl. 47; titled Portrait d'homme and dated 1897).