One of the most iconic Picasso ‘Blue Period’ paintings which has been in Britain for over 85 years is about to vanish from the UK forever. ‘Child with a Dove’ was painted in 1901 when Picasso was a struggling 19 year old artist, living in Paris. It first arrived in the UK in 1924, when it was acquired by Mrs RA Workman, who sold it to the art collector Samuel Courtauld in 1928. He later bequeathed it to Lady Aberconway in 1947. Legend has it ,that when it was purchased by Samuel Courtauld, he regarded it so highly, it was hung in his bedroom.
The picture was sold last year at Christie’s in a private sale. It has been rumoured that the Qatar Royal Family, who are opening a ‘Super-museum’ are the purchasers. The picture was valued at around £50m. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey put an export bar in place, in the hope that money could be raised to buy the painting for the nation. The export ban remained in place until 16th December 2012, but no benefactor was forthcoming. A final decision will be made in June but it is thought it is just a formality and the painting will leave the country to join other masterpieces in Qatar like Cezanne’s Card Players which is the most expensive work of art ever sold. The Card Players was purchased for more than £158.4 ($250m). There are four other versions of the Card-Players located in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Musée d’Orsay, the Courtauld, and the Barnes Foundation. Qatar was ranked the world’s biggest Contemporary and Modern art buyer last year. Few can compete with their buying power.
The export of ‘Child With A Dove’ will take place despite the advise of Arts Council England, who stated in a report that Pablo Picasso was underrepresented in British museum collections. It is also thought that The National Gallery’s successful £50m bid to save Titian’s Diana and Callisto from the Duke of Sutherland collection, took precedence over the Blue period masterpiece.
The sale of this important painting raises many questions about the politics of priorities in this country. It also should promote discussion about the involvement of the major auction houses in brokering a fire sale of our heritage works of art. An export licence should never be granted for this particular Picasso, which will be sorely missed by generations to come.
The public have one more chance of seeing this masterpiece in an exhibition titled ‘Becoming Picasso’ until 26 May Courtauld Gallery London Visit Here