In the past, we have spoken extensively about what Pablo Picasso’s works can do at art auctions, when it comes to breaking record barriers: the La Lecture painting and the Femmes Lisant (Deux Personnages) are some examples. Now, one of the iconic and earliest works of the Spanish master impressionist, Child with a dove, is up for auction, sparking fears that it would no longer remain in UK, where it has been displayed since the 70s.
Iconic Pablo Picasso painting, one of the artist’s earliest works (1901), will go on sale after its owners, the aristocratic North Wales Aberconway family, asked auction house Christie’s to find a buyer for the piece. Arts Council England has also announced an intention of sale, giving a rough guide price of £50 million (around $80 million).
Child with a Dove was painted by the Spaniard in Paris at the beginning of his Blue Period, when he was only 19. It pictures a small child holding a white bird to her chest, a multi-colored ball lying at her feet. It is thought the painting is a nod to his childhood, when his father was a keen amateur dove and pigeon breeder.
The Picasso’s masterwork has been in the Aberconway family since 1928, when it was bequeathed to Lady of Aberconway Christabel McLaren by legendary British collector Samuel Courtauld. It was on display at the National Gallery from 1974 to 2011, and since then at the Courtauld Gallery. It is currently on show at Tate Britain’s Picasso and Modern British Art exhibition.
Since the piece was publically shown, the current owner was exempt from inheritance tax when he first received the piece, but this tax would become payable if the work was to be sold privately. Under UK regulations, owners in this situation have to publish a notice of intention of sale via the Arts Council England’s Acquisitions, Exports, Loans and Collections Unit, and allow three months for national collections to decide whether they are in a position to acquire it.
Christie’s confirmed it had been instructed to find a buyer for a private sale, keeping the deal away from the attention an open auction would inevitably bring.