Executed in Barcelona in 1900.
signed P. Ruiz Picasso (lower left)
watercolour and pen and ink on paper
22 by 10.8cm.
8 5/8 by 4 1/4 in.
London, Arts Council of Great Britain, Homage to Barcelona: The City and its Art 1888-1936, 1985, no. 195, illustrated in the catalogue
Barcelona, Museu Picasso, Picasso i Els 4 Gats, 1995, no. 65, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Pierre Daix, Georges Boudaille and Joan Rosselet, Picasso 1900-1906. Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Neuchâtel, 1966, no. I.27, illustrated p. 114
Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso. Supplément aux années 1892-1902, Paris, 1969, vol. 21, no. 137, illustrated pl. 53
O'Hana Gallery, London
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner in December 1963
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Benet Soler Vidal, also known as 'Retalls' ('Cuttings'), was a fashionable tailor in Barcelona, and a friend of Picasso's. Paying great attention to his appearance even during times of desperate poverty, Picasso would order his clothes from Soler and pay for them with his pictures. In the autumn of 1903 Picasso painted a large portrait of Soler (fig. 1), executed in dark blue tones, expressing the melancholy which Picasso was prey to during his Blue Period. In the same year he also painted Portrait de Madame Soler, now in the collection of Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst in Munich, as well as a monumental La Famille Soler, representing the tailor picnicking with his wife and their four children, now in the collection of Musée d'Art Moderne in Liège.
Writing about Picasso's relationship with Soler, John Richardson commented that Soler and his wife Montserrat 'would frequently have Picasso to lunch and dinner at their apartment round the corner from Els Quatre Gats. These meals and a new wardrobe were the quid pro quo for these portraits. Half a century later the artist took nostalgic delight in reviving this system of barter. 'Just like the old days in Barcelona,' he would say, as he exchanged drawings for outrageously patterned jackets and trousers with Sapone, an Italian tailor who lived in Nice, 'except that now it would be so much cheaper to pay in cash" (J. Richardson, A Life of Picasso, London, 1991, vol. I, p. 285).