Posing and Posturing for Picasso

The media have been reporting that composer of lavishly over-the-top musicals, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, intends to finance a series of significant charitable contributions to the theatrical establishment through an auction of Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Absinthe Drinker’ (also known as Portrait de Angel Fernandez de Soto).

 Absinthe Drinker

The painting, from Picasso’s Blue Period, is expected to fetch somewhere in the order of 35 million Pounds Sterling at auction. The intended sale, however, may not be so straight forward.

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 Not without controversy, the painting is at the centre of a dispute being in heard in the British High Court as a result of a claim by a Professor Scheops of the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European Jewish Studies. His great uncle controlled one of the great Jewish-owned German Banks at the time of the Nazi Party’s ascent to power. Prof. Scheops maintains that the Nazis forced his family to sell the painting during World War II to a dubious art dealer, as a consequence of the requisition of their assets. A similar lawsuit filed in 2006 in New York prior to an auction at Christies was overturned by the presiding judge on jurisdictional grounds.

This is not the only picture of Angel Fernandez de Soto produced by Picasso circa 1902-1903. While not absinthe orientated, the no-less-Libertine Mr de Soto was captured on canvas by Picasso in ‘Angel de Soto and a Woman‘, the good woman in question demonstrating a skill in multi-tasking by wielding his penis in one hand and a glass of champange in the other, all the while undergoing clitoral stimulation, whereas ‘The Brothers Mateu and Angel Fernandez with Anita‘ depicts the siblings about to engage in a bit of rampant group sex with an unknown prostitute.

 Angel and Woman

While no doubt the artistic blurring of pornography versus erotic high art might be argued by some – I’m sure for Picasso and his staggering band of debauchering friends, all too willing to pose while on the job in the brothels of Paris, it was really just a bit like a Belle Epoque ‘YouTube’ of its day.

Jonathan Apr 18th 2008 11:42 pm Art,History,News,People No Comments yet Trackback URI

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