Portrait de Mr Minguell oil on paper laid on canvas 52 x 31.5cm (20 1/2 x 12 3/8in). Painted in 1901
This work is accompanied by a copy of a certificate of authenticity issued by Mme Maya Picasso and by a certificate of authenticity issued by Mr Claude Picasso. It is numbered 12051 in the estate archives of Pablo Picasso.
PROVENANCE: Estate of the artist Private collection, 1979 Private collection
EXHIBITED: National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C, Picasso: The early years March-July 1997, catalogue no.57
LITERATURE: Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Supplement aux années 1892-1902, Paris 1969 vol 21, pl.75, no.191. Editions Cahier d'art, Paris. Josep Palau i Fabre, Picasso Vivo, 1881-1907, Barcelona, 1980, p.246, no.637, illustrated p.251
Picasso was probably introduced to the Catalan tailor Minguell during his second visit to Paris in 1901, by Pedro Manach his dealer and friend. The portrait of Minguell was painted in the summer of 1901 during a return trip to Barcelona where he went to escape the bustle of Paris. The work was gifted to Minguell shortly afterwards, but Picasso must have regretted this as he bought it back years later and it remained in his possession until his death in 1973. It has been suggested by Josep Palau i Fabre that the painting may have been exhibited that same summer of 1901 at Ambroise Vollard's gallery in the Exposition de tableaux de F.Iturrino et de P.R Picasso'. He believed the work was exhibited as number 25, described simply as Portrait, (Josep Palau i Fabre, op. cit, p.251).
An oil on paper, the work was laid down on canvas and probably restored under Picasso's guidance some time before 1969, when it was photographed for the Christian Zervos book. The fact that it is an oil on paper is significant because it marks a time in Picasso's life when he was barely scraping a living as an artist and could thus not afford many canvases on which to paint. He was staying in an apartment in Paris with the journalist and poet Max Jacob taking it in turns to sleep in a tiny room and often burning his own sketches to keep warm.
The success of his middle and later years was a distant dream at this point. Towards the end of 1901 his famous blue period starts following the suicide of his friend Carles Casagemas, which deeply affected Picasso and muted his colour palette. Interestingly the background to the prestent portrait is an evocative blue/green which predates the blue period. In Portrait de Minguell Picasso has produced a touching portrait of his friend which in its lighting and romantic colouring recalls Goya and El Greco, as well as the more contemporary influences of Toulouse-Lautrec and Théophile Steinlen in its graphic evocation of a working class man.