Lot 112
  • 112

Pablo Picasso

500,000 - 700,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Pablo Picasso
  • Portrait de l'artiste assis (Autoportrait à la pipe)
  • Inscribed A Sebastiá Junyent and signed Picasso (upper center); dated Paris Diciembre 1904 and inscribed -Mi retrato- (lower left)
  • Pen and ink, ink wash and gouache on paper


Sebastiá Junyent, Barcelona (acquired from the artist)
Sam Salz, New York
Private Collection, Oklahoma
Acquavella Galleries, New York
Acquired from the above in 1986


New York, Acquavella Galleries, XIX & XX Century Master Drawings & Watercolors, 1986, no. 9, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Jaime Sabartés, Picasso: Documents iconographiques, Geneva, 1954, no. 86
Pierre Daix & Georges Boudaille, Picasso: The Blue and Rose Periods, Greenwich, 1967, no. D.XI.28, illustrated p. 252
Alberto Moravia, Picasso blu e rosa, Milan, 1968, no. 152, illustrated p. 99
Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Supplément aux années 1903-06, vol. XXII, Paris, 1970, no. 113, illustrated pl. 37
William Rubin, ed., Pablo Picasso. A Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1980, illustrated p. 57
Josep Palau i Fabre, Picasso, The Early Years 1881-1907, Paris, 1981, no. 1010, illustrated p. 393
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, The Blue Period, 1902-1904, San Francisco, 2011, no. 1904-126, illustrated p. 225

Catalogue Note

Increasingly frustrated by the artistic scene in Barcelona and believing that his future lay elsewhere, Picasso made the decision to move back to Paris full time in the spring of 1904. He traveled from Barcelona by train, accompanied by fellow Spaniard Sebastià Junyer Vidal, and quickly settled in a top floor studio at 13 Rue Ravignan—famously dubbed the “Bateau Lavoir” for its resemblance to a Seine laundry barge (see fig. 1). Though Junyer Vidal soon returned to Spain, the transplanted Picasso maintained close contact with his friends in Barcelona, including Sebastià Junyent, to whom the present work is dedicated. Junyent was, “a painter from the generation of Casas, Rusiñol and Utrillo. His art career was equally prolific in painting, illustration and design at the time. He had also deservedly won acclaim as an essayist and art critic on journals such as Joventut and La Renaixença” (María Teresa Ocaña, ed., Picasso and Els 4Gats, The Early Years in Turn-of-the-Century Barcelona (exhibition catalogue), Museu Picasso, Barcelona, 1995-96, p. 199). An inheritance had made Junyent financially secure and beyond buying some twenty drawings from Picasso in 1903, he paid Picasso’s rent several times that year and granted the younger artist use of his studio in Barcelona. “An unusual symbiosis then started to grow between the two artists, leading them to paint portraits of each other” (ibid.,p. 199). In Junyent’s 1903 portrait of Picasso (see fig. 2), his mustachioed subject appears in the scarf and long coat that seems to have been a signature look. Picasso in turn painted a remarkable blue portrait of Junyent that same year and no doubt had a sort of friendly rivalry in mind when he sent his own self-portrait, so prominently labeled “-Mi retrato-”, to his fellow artist.


The present drawing is also significant in the context of Picasso’s ongoing communications with Junyent; in September 1904, spurred by his need for extra income, Picasso had acquired a zinc plate and created his celebrated etching The Frugal Repast. Using Eugène Delâtre, the preferred printer of Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso produced a run and sent a signed and dedicated copy to Junyent (see fig. 3) in the hopes he could sell the image in Barcelona. Junyent wrote to Picasso on December 26, 1904: “Thank you for sending the etching, which is so well done. It seems to me you will sell many in Paris, but here it will be more difficult; you know the kind of art they like here. Nevertheless, I’ll try and sell some. I congratulate you for your sale in Paris—it’s something at least—and proves that not everything has to be unpleasant. I still have not taken one to your father, but I’ll do it the first chance I have” (Marilyn McCully, Picasso in Paris, 1900-1907 (exhibition catalogue), Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam & Museu Picasso, Barcelona, 2011, p. 140). Given that the present work is dated December 1904, and shows clear signs of having been folded to travel via envelope, it is highly likely that the drawing was sent to Junyent along with The Frugal Repast, or else in a reply to the aforementioned missive. In either case it seems clear that in Autoportrait à la pipe, Picasso is playfully referencing the etching by depicting himself seated before his own rather humble spread.


Indeed, Junyent’s letter alludes directly to Picasso’s own “frugal”, even unpleasant, circumstances. 1904 had proved to be a difficult year for Picasso as he struggled to cement his reputation in Paris. Despite the fact that he would soon meet his first great love Fernande Olivier, the artist was initially isolated as he spoke little French and was effectively destitute. Even by November, the same month he participated in a group show at the Galerie Berthe Weill, visitors from Barcelona noted that Picasso was not only in dire need of money but “extremely thin” (ibid., p. 227). Unable to afford models and not yet fully ensconced in the scenes at the Lapin Agile and Cirque Médrano, Picasso frequently became the subject of his own work during these months. Equating himself to the wretched and emaciated denizens of The Frugal Repast was a means of underscoring his frustration to Junyent, but at the same time the expression he affects is steely and resolute. He was certainly aware the Junyent would likely share this image with his father, who Junyent had promised to see soon in his last letter. Thus it appears that, while content to lament his poverty, Picasso refuses to portray himself as anything but the robust character that left Barcelona eight months prior, despite the reality witnessed so recently by his visitors.


The desire to assure Junyent and the Barcelona crowd of his well-being may partially explain Picasso’s choice to depict himself in trademark garb (though realistically it is unlikely that he owned a variety of clothes at the time). Picasso had last been seen in Barcelona in April, when we know he was dressed identically thanks to a series of cartoonish sketches he drew documenting the journey to Paris with Junyer Vidal. The artist clearly sports the same long brown coat and pipe and a similar scarf and blue cap as in the present work (see fig. 4). Indeed this outfit appear in many of his self-portraits from these time, including a highly similar example which the artist kept for his personal collection until giving it to Dora Maar in the late 1930s (see fig. 5). The identifiable nature of his clothing and equally recognizable profile suggest that Autoportrait à la pipe exists at least partially in the realm of caricature. “From 1901 to 1904 [Picasso] was dominated by a desire to reinforce his plastic language through caricature” (María Teresa Ocaña, ed., Picasso and Els 4Gats, The Early Years in Turn-of-the-Century Barcelona (exhibition catalogue), Museu Picasso, Barcelona, 1995-96, p. 203). “Throughout his process of metamorphosis during the Blue period, his friend and acquaintances from [Els Quatre Gats] continued to play an important role in his work. They provided him with an exceptional source of conventional studio portraits as well as an amazing source of humorous, burlesque portraits. Both strengthened his path through that locale, which was to bring him into contact with movements of renewal that, some years later, enables him to rise to the forefront of the avant-garde” (ibid., p. 203). Picasso and his friends enjoyed each other through the portraits they created of themselves and each other, and this work extends that dialogue even as Picasso was separated from his milieu by distance.


While his early output at the Bateau Lavoir was still firmly rooted in his Blue Period and includes such celebrated oils as Woman Ironing (The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York), by the fall of 1904 his work became gradually suffused with ochre tones that signal the onset of the Rose period and the artist’s own spiritual reconciliation. In the present work these tones seem to emanate from the artist’s coat. His outfit is a combination of blue and ochre, the two tones that distinguish the Blue and Rose periods, identifying Autoportrait à la pipe as a key transitional work.