Acquisitions News Qatar

Qatar reportedly buys Picasso’s Child with a Dove

The oil rich Gulf state has snapped up the UK’s most famous work by Modern master, according to French news

The small, oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar has made another major modern art purchase. According to the French newspaper Le Figaro, the Middle Eastern state has acquired Picasso’s Child with a Dove for £50m, a work that until last year had been in a UK collection since 1924. A spokeswoman for the Qatar Museums Authority says she cannot “confirm nor deny [the acquisition]; QMA does not comment on acquisitions”.

The 1901 painting comes from the descendants of Lady Aberconway, who inherited it from Samuel Courtauld. The Blue Period work went on long-term loan to the National Gallery, London, from 1974 to 2011. “Alongside Tate’s Weeping Woman, 1937, it is probably the most famous work by Picasso in a UK collection,” according to an Arts Council England report.

Seen last year in the exhibition “Picasso and Modern British Art” at Tate Britain in London, it was reportedly sold privately through Christie’s. The painting is currently on show in “Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901” at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

A temporary export ban was placed on the work by the UK government late last year. However, “no UK museum had tried to raise the funds necessary to keep the picture here. It’s interesting that, despite the Picasso name, the picture did not generate any ‘save it for the nation’ campaign,” says Bendor Grosvenor, a co-director of the Philip Mould gallery in London.

In recent years, Qatar has emerged as the biggest art buyer in the world, spending a reported $1bn on art, including $250m for Cezanne’s The Card Players, 1895, although purchases have never been officially confirmed.

The daughter of the emir, Sheikha Mayassa Al Thani, is overseeing an ambitious cultural programme, which has encompassed exhibitions of Takashi Murakami, Cai Guo-Qiang and Louise Bourgeois in the Qatari capital of Doha. Meanwhile, a Damien Hirst show curated by Francesco Bonami is due to open at the Al Riwaq Exhibition Hall in Doha this October.

For the story in French, see Le Figaro

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15 Apr 13
16:15 CET


Most famous work by Picasso in a UK collection? Maybe, but it's not a fraction of the painting that 'The Three Dancers' is. Also, is it right to describe a work on loan to a UK museum collection as 'in' that collection? I think this is a loss UK collections will survive.

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