Art News
 Pablo Picasso ,Bibi la Purée,National Gallery
Early Pablo Picasso Portrait Loaned To London's National Gallery - ArtLyst Article image

Early Pablo Picasso Portrait Loaned To London's National Gallery

Bookmark and Share

A rarely exhibited portrait of Bibi la Purée, a famous reprobate in turn-of-the century Paris, was painted by the 20-year-old Picasso when he returned to Paris in 1901 to prepare his first exhibition in the city at Galerie Vollard.
Bibi la Purée was a picturesque figure in the bohemian circles of Montmartre and the Latin Quarter. A former actor turned vagabond, he was affable and eccentric and survived by shining shoes, stealing umbrellas and drinking absinthe. He occasionally acted as private secretary to the poet Paul Verlaine, who dedicated a sonnet to his friend. Picasso probably met the ragged dandy in the brasseries and seedy bars they both haunted, and would have been fascinated by his elderly, grimacing features. The portrait is brushed in broad, gestural strokes vigorously applied, which capture Bibi’s grin with uncompromising energy. This expressionistic treatment, combined with Picasso’s use of harsh colours, enhances the tramp’s grotesque energy.
The painting has rarely been seen in public. It entered a private French collection in 1939 and has not been lent to any of the major Picasso exhibitions. It has been known in the Picasso literature only by a small black-and-white photograph and the vast majority of Picasso’s admirers will never have seen it ‘in the flesh’. It is on loan to the National Gallery from a private collection.
The painting carries the National Gallery’s important portrait collection into the 20th century and relates to other images of Parisian bohemian and artistic circles in the Gallery by Manet, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Vuillard. It shows how a new, young generation took up the almost violent expressionistic painting style of Van Gogh which was a revelation to Picasso when he arrived in Paris. It is like the clanging of a fire alarm at the end of the painting tradition which the National Gallery traces, announcing the dawn of a new world.

Portrait of Bibi la Purée is now on display in Room 45 of the National Gallery.

Read More About Picasso Here

" I'm Not sure about this painting. Mike Hinc I like it well enough. Harold Merrigold He painted it when he was 20 years old. People would probably stampede to see his baby drawings if they could. Mike Hinc They can in Barcelona - can't they? They're really rather good apparently. Harold Merrigold Mike.....seriously? I was joking! Shay Culligan Remove the Picasso name from it, and nobody Mike Hinc Harold seriously...so was I .... but it's true nonetheless... son of an art teacher he was something of a child prodiogy and in his museum they certainly make the most of it. David Olive wouldn't have guessed it was Picasso.. liked it though, even before i saw the name. I'm sure this was radical for the time (1901) but a potboiler for Picasso at any age. Why the National Gallery would give it wall space is a big question. Could it be a distraction from the real 1901 masterpiece that has been sold off the wall of the National Gallery for a reported 150 million?. See article Picasso Export Ban Last Chance To Save Priceless Masterpiece http://www.artlyst.com/articles/picasso-export-ban-last-chance-to-save-priceless-masterpiece or is this a ploy to push the profile of a second rate painting in order to push its value??? what do you think??? Shay Culligan In an unregulated industry like the visual arts, murky value/price manipulation cannot be ruled out. I say let the 1% piss away their ill-gotten gains on this sort of thing, hopefully the bubble will burst down the road. Or perhaps I'm being naive...... Alice Leach This is a horrible picture. Hard to believe it's by Picasso. Yes Shay but how could art be subject to regulations, who would they benefit and would it restrict creativity along the way??? " - 19-08-2012  

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous campaigns.

Artlyst Quiz
Advertise with Artlyst


Canvas Bar
Camden Arts Centre
Art Below
Guardian Select
Button Advertise
Top 10 Exhibitions
Top 10 Emerging Exhibitions