Britain’s favourite Picasso heads to Qatar after failure to raise £50m
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Thursday 11 April 2013
One of the best-loved works by Pablo Picasso on display in Britain is set to leave the country next month with Qatar its likely destination. Experts have expressed dismay that Child with a Dove could not be saved for the nation, suggesting steps to increase philanthropy “may not be enough”.
Le Figaro reported that the significant early work had been acquired by Qatar for £50m, and follows pieces by Mark Rothko and Paul Cézanne into the collection controlled by the royal family.
Child with a Dove, which has been in the UK since 1924, was described by the Arts Council as the “probably the most famous work by Picasso in a UK collection”. It marks the move into the artist’s Blue Period.
After the sale of the painting last year by Christie’s on behalf of the Aberconway family in Wales the Government put in place a temporary export bar following advice from the Reviewing Committee, an independent body administered by the Arts Council. However the ban expired in December without any British institution able to raise the money to keep it in Britain.
Lord Inglewood, chair of the Reviewing Committee, told The Independent: “It is a great shame that institutions could not raise the funds necessary to keep this beautiful piece of art in this country.” He continued: “Clearly money was the problem, and while steps are being taken to increase philanthropy in the country, this suggests they may not be enough.”
The painting is currently on display in the Courtauld Gallery’s exhibition Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901. When the exhibition ends on 27 May it will return to Christie’s. The auction house declined to comment on the movements of the painting on its return.
Barnaby Wright, curator of 20th century art at the Courtauld, said: “It is always a shame when great works leave the country.” He added that the image was “incredibly appealing. While some think it is sentimental, I think it has an edge, as well as being a beautiful image. It is the moment that marks Picasso finding his own voice.”
The Picasso expert Gijs van Hensbergen said: “This is a great early Picasso; there’s a good reason why it is popular.” He added: “Pre-crisis, works of that quality and value would never change hands. After the world changed nothing is set in concrete. It is a sad realisation that empires decline and culture goes with the money.”
While Qatar has become a powerhouse in the market in the past few years, it has repeatedly declined to confirm which artworks it has bought despite reports that it paid $250m (£162m) for Cézanne’s The Card Players and $72m for Rothko’s White Centre (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose).
Qatar’s art drive is being overseen by Sheikha Mayassa al-Thani, the daughter of the emir.
Philip Hoffman, chief executive of the Fine Art Fund, said: “Qatar is one of the top three buyers in the world at the moment, and they have huge resources. It has made a huge commitment to making itself the hub of the art market in the Middle East. They are after a lot of major pieces,” but, he added, “there are limits.”
Arabian might: Qatar’s art haul
$250m; The Card Players
Paul Cézanne painted five versions. Qatar is believed to have bought one for a world record $250m in 2011, with details of the deal only emerging months later.
$72.8m; White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)
The Gulf state is also believed to be the buyer of this work by Mark Rothko which sold at Sotheby’s in New York in 2007 for $72.8m.
The Men in Her Life
Andy Warhol’s portrait of Elizabeth Taylor might belong to Qatar, according to The Art Newspaper, despite contrary claims by agent Philippe Segalot.
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Michelle Watt's father says TV presenter killed herself because she was in constant pain
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 'Help me I'm trapped in a factory' messages keep being found on bottles of vitamin water
- 4 North Korean defector flees to Finland 'with evidence of chemical testing on humans'
- 5 Greek debt crisis: The photograph that conveys the despair of Greece's elderly
Bad luck, One Direction: Paul McCartney doubts success of The Beatles will ever be matched again
This is surely the best way to watch Jaws
Game of Thrones season 6: Daenerys actress Emilia Clarke says '50/50 chance' Jon Snow is alive
Guillaume Tell's gang-rape scene caused uproar at the Royal Opera House – but the portrayal of extreme sex and violence on stage is nothing new
The last decade has produced just four UK festival headline acts
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture