Pablo Picasso, ‘The Three Dancers’ 1925
Pablo Picasso
The Three Dancers 1925
© Succession Picasso/DACS 2021

In 1965 Roland Penrose visited Picasso in the hope of negotiating the acquisition for the Tate Gallery of a major work. A trustee of the gallery, Penrose drew upon his relationship with Picasso, as a friend and his first biographer, and on the success of the Tate’s retrospective five years earlier. Unexpectedly, Picasso agreed to the sale of The Three Dancers, 1925, the painting he considered one of his two greatest alongside Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon, which had long been at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. It was the first time Picasso had sold a work directly to a public museum, and was seen as a reflection of the importance that he placed on London. In 1967, Penrose curated an exhibition of Picasso’s sculpture, again at the Tate Gallery, securing the artist’s reputation as one of the great innovators in three dimensions as well as in two. Since then, Picasso’s influence on British art has continued uninterrupted.