Rediscovered Picasso Hits Auction Block

Pablo Picasso, Portrait d'homme, Dionís Renart (1899) Photo: Courtesy Stockholms Auktionsverk

An early portrait by Pablo Picasso recently rediscovered in Sweden will go up for auction at Stockholms Auktionsverk next week. Portrait d’homme, Dionís Renart was painted in 1899 when the artist was just 18 years old. It depicts his good friend at the time, fellow-artist Dionís Renart i Garcia with whom he reveled in bohemian Barcelona’s cafe Els Quatre Gats. The painting is signed with his early moniker P. Ruiz P.

The identification of the portrait’s subject is a recent feat, perhaps first recorded in the small catalogue produced to accompany the portrait’s sale in Stockholm on October 22nd. The work wasn’t even part of the first edition of Christian Zervos definitive catalogue raisonnée on the artist. However, Zervos did add the work in a supplemental volume of the catalogue in 1969.

That’s likely due to just how rare to market the work has been. Picasso gave the work to his friend—who he painted as a Dandy, their preferred style of the day—upon its completion. The portrait didn’t reappear until over a half-century later, selling from Garcia’s estate at the O’Hana Gallery in London, according to the artnet Price Database.

It was last sold by Paris’s Alex Maguy, Galerie de l’Elysée in 1962 to a Swedish collector. At the time, Picasso verified its attribution, attaching a signed and dated note to it which reads “Oui, ce tableaux est de moi,” (yes, this painting is by me).

Portrait d’homme, Dionís Renart (1899) currently holds an estimate of 8–10 million kroner ($1.1–1.4 million). However, works from the same period and of similar size have been known to blow past their estimates in recent years. According to the artnet Price Database, Picasso’s Retrato de Modesto Castillo (1895) topped its £100,000–150,000 estimate at Christie’s London in June 2012 to sell for a whopping £2.2 million ($3.4 million).

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