Young Girl with a Flower Basket

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Pablo Picasso, 1905, Young Girl with a Flower Basket (Fillette nue au panier de fleurs, Le panier fleuri), oil on canvas, 155 x 66 cm, private collection, New York

Young Girl with a Flower Basket (Fillette à la corbeille fleurie or Jeune fille nue avec panier de fleurs or Fillette nue au panier de fleurs or Le panier fleuri) is a 1905 painting by Pablo Picasso from his Rose period.[1] It was painted at a key phase in Picasso's life, as he made the transition from an impoverished bohemian at the start of 1905 to a successful artist by the end of 1906.

After achieving some early success in 1901, Picasso was still struggling by 1905, living in penury in Montmartre. The work was painted at the new studio that he took on the top floor of the dilapidated building at 13 rue Ravignan [fr], which the poet Max Jacob termed the "Le Bateau-Lavoir". Other floors were occupied by other artists. The Cirque Médrano was nearby, and Picasso was inspired by the harlequins and saltimbanques, clowns, jugglers and other acts, making the transition from his bleak Blue period to his more optimistic Rose period.

Young Girl with a Flower Basket was made in the autumn of 1905, after Picasso returned to Paris from spending six weeks in the countryside in the northern Netherlands. The subject is a young girl who was working as a flower seller, but also probably as a teenage child prostitute. She is depicted naked, save for pink ribbons in her dark hair and a necklace, and she is holding a basket of red flowers, all painted with simplified lines and flattened blocks of colour. Many of Picasso's paintings of this period combine conflicting elements of innocence and of experience. It was reported by John Richardson in his exhibition catalogue for the Late Picasso exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London in 1988 (p. 340), based on the writings of Jean-Paul Crespelle, that the subject was called "Linda la Bouquetière", from the Place du Tertre, and she worked outside the Moulin Rouge. She also worked as an artist's model; in addition to Picasso, she was painted by Kees van Dongen and Amedeo Modigliani. An earlier pen and ink sketch suggests Picasso originally planned to paint her in a white dress, as if attending her first communion, with the red flowers symbolising the blood of the eucharist.

The painting is signed "Picasso", and inscribed "Picasso 1905 13 Rue Ravignan" on the reverse. It measures 154.8 cm × 66.1 cm (60.9 in × 26.0 in).

Picasso sold the painting to the Galerie du Vingtième Siècle run by art dealer Clovis Sagot [fr; de] near the gallery of Ambroise Vollard. Sagot drove a hard bargain. He originally offered 700 francs for three works - this painting, and two works in gouache made in the Netherlands. Picasso initially refused, but desperate for money he returned to take up Sagot's offer a few days later. Sagot cannily cut his offer to 500 francs, which Picasso also refused. Forced by his poverty to return to Sagot again some days later, the work was eventually sold for just 75 francs, and put up for sale in Sagot's gallery as La fleur du pavé ("The flower of the cobblestones").

It became the second of three Rose period paintings acquired by the collectors Gertrude Stein and Leo Stein. The Stein siblings had been living in Paris from 1903, and began collecting contemporary artworks in 1904, buying works by Cézanne, Gauguin and Renoir from Ambroise Vollard. Sagot sold Picasso's Famille d'acrobates avec singe (1905) to Leo Stein, and the couple later acquired Fillette à la corbeille fleurie. The Steins quarrelled about this second purchase, as Leo wanted it but Gertrude did not; in the end Gertrude relented and they bought it for 150 francs. In time, Gertrude came to appreciate the painting and later acquired Leo's share. In 1938, Gertude Stein wrote that it "was painted at the great moment of the harlequin period, full of grace and delicacy and charm".

Later in 1905, Henri-Pierre Roché introduced the Steins to Picasso and they became friends, buying Femme au bras levé (1905) direct from the artist. He completed a portrait of Gertrude Stein in 1906. The acquisitions by the Steins were to mark the beginnings of Picassos commercial success, and by the end of 1906 his works were being bought by Vollard.

After Gertrude Stein died, the painting was retained by her estate, and then sold in 1968 to the Syndicate of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but quickly resold later that year to David Rockefeller and Peggy Rockefeller. After David Rockefeller's death in 2017, it was sold at Christie's on 8 May 2018 with other works from the Rockefeller collection, achieving a sale price of $115 million.[2]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) , Fillette à la corbeille fleurie". Retrieved 2018-05-10.
  2. ^ Rockefeller Picasso sells for $115 million including fees, CNBC, 8 May 2018
  • Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Fillette à la corbeille fleurie, Feature essay, Christies, 2018
  • Live like a Rockefeller – Picasso’s Fillette à la corbeille fleurie, Christies, 2018
  • Picasso and the Painting That Shocked the World, Miles J. Unger, p.238
  • The Art of Rivalry: Four Friendships, Betrayals, and Breakthroughs in Modern Art, Sebastian Smee, p.159-160
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