Pablo Picasso

Flowers

1901

Original title
Fleurs
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 651 x 489 mm
frame: 916 x 758 x 103 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased with assistance from the Contemporary Art Society 1933
Reference
N04683

Display caption

This was the first work by Pablo Picasso to be bought by the Tate Gallery. It was acquired in 1933 with the help of the Contemporary Art Society, a fund established in 1910 to help public museums and galleries buy important works of art. This surprising flower painting by Picasso reveals a lot about the tastes of the Tate Gallery Trustees in the early twentieth century. In 1933 Picasso was already an established avant-garde artist, but the decision to buy this conservative early work shows that the Trustees were resisting the more radical developments in modern art.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

Pablo Picasso 1881-1973

N04683 Fleurs (Flowers) 1901

Inscribed 'Picasso' b.r.
Oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 19 1/4 (65 x 49)
Purchased from Reid and Lefevre (Grant-in-Aid 'T' Fund) with the aid of the CAS 1933
Prov: [?Le Père Soulier, Paris]; with Louis Libaude, Paris; Leo Lewin, Breslau; with Reid and Lefevre, London
Exh: Silver Jubilee Exhibition of Some of the Works acquired by the CAS, Tate Gallery, July-August 1935 (37); RSA, Edinburgh, May-August 1946 (182)
Lit: Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso (Paris 1932), Vol.1, No.61, repr. pl.28; Georges Boudaille, Pierre Daix and Joan Rosselet, Picasso 1900-1906 (Neuchâtel 1966), No.V.22, p.168 repr.
Repr: Carlos Peacock, Painters and Writers (London 1949), pl.77 in colour

Painted in Paris in 1901 and possibly one of the still lifes of flowers included in Picasso's exhibition with F. Iturrino at the Galerie Vollard in June-July 1901. In addition to no.6 'Iris' (probably Zervos, op. cit., No.58) and no.60 'Roses' (probably Zervos, op. cit., No.9), there were two pictures nos.27 and 28 entitled respectively 'Flower' and 'Flowers', both of which were lent by Mme Besnard. However the fact that it is an early Blue Period work would suggest that it is more likely to have been painted toward the end of the year.

On being shown a photograph of this work by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler in 1950, Picasso recalled that somebody - he remembered the name as Dr Rhein or Rheims - had asked him to paint a still life of flowers, but when the picture was finished he found the price (20 francs) too high and didn't take it. So Picasso sold it, probably for less, to a dealer in second-hand goods like Père Soulier.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.592, reproduced p.592

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