Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid, Spain): Picasso 1906
Pablo Picasso 1881-1973
N04721 Cheval avec Jeune Homme en bleu (Horse with a Youth in Blue) 1905-6
Inscribed 'Picasso' t.l.
Watercolour and gouache on paper mounted on panel, 19 5/8 x 12 5/8 (50 x 32)
Bequeathed by C. Frank Stoop 1933
Prov: C. Frank Stoop, London (probably purchased through the Stafford Gallery, London, 1912)
Exh: Drawings by Pablo Picasso, Stafford Gallery, London, April-May 1912 (5), as 'Cheval avec jeune homme en bleu'; The CAS: Loan Exhibition of Modern Foreign Painting, Colnaghi's Galleries, London, June-July 1924 (49), as 'Boy' lent by Mrs Stoop; Picasso, Tate Gallery, July-September 1960 (28, repr.); Picasso, Trinity College, Dublin, May-August 1969 (3, repr.)
Lit: Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso (Paris 1932), Vol.1, No.270, repr. pl.119; Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Picasso: Fifty Years of his Art (New York 1946), p.42; Wilhelm Boeck and Jaime Sabartés, Picasso (London 1955), p.135; Georges Boudaille, Pierre Daix and Joan Rosselet, Picasso 1900-1906 (Neuchâtel 1966), No.XIV.4, pp.284-8, repr. p.285
Repr: John Rothenstein, Modern Foreign Pictures in the Tate Gallery (London 1947), pl.94
This is one of the first of a series of studies for the large painting 'Boy leading a Horse' now in the Mr and Mrs William S. Paley collection, New York (oil on canvas, 195 x 97cm). In the latter the boy is nude and holds his right arm extended gripping the horse's bridle. There are several drawings which show intermediate stages.
It would appear that Picasso intended at one point to make a large-scale composition showing the boy leading a horse with several men on horseback around a watering-place. A gouache, a watercolour, a pencil drawing and a drypoint for the whole composition exist (repr. Boudaille, Daix and Rosselet, op. cit., Nos.XIV.14-16) and there are also six or seven studies for other figures. Zervos dates all these 1905, but Boudaille et al. point out that there is a related pen drawing of a nude boy on a horse which is inscribed 1906. They date the Tate's drawing and the other early studies 1905-6 and the studies for 'The Watering-Place' (or 'Chevaux au Bain') spring-summer 1906.
Though this watercolour has generally been known in recent years as 'Jeune Homme et Cheval', it was exhibited at the Stafford Gallery in 1912 as 'Cheval avec Jeune Homme en Bleu' (and was priced at £22, the most expensive item in the exhibition). The identification is confirmed by the review in the Athenæum, 27 April 1912, p.478: '... in Cheval avec jeune Homme en Bleu (5) the horse is quite comic, from the way in which, by an exaggeration of Van Dyck's formula, its forequarters and the pose of the head suggest exactly the action of shrinking self-conscious modesty of the "Venus de Medici". The drawing of the figure, on the other hand, is firm and elastic, with a considerable grip on reality.'
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, pp.593-4, reproduced p.593