Picasso and Modern British Art
15 February-15 June 2012
Tate Britain, London
Catalogue by James Beechey and
Chris Stephens (eds.)
ISBN 9781854378903 (paperback) 24.99 [pounds sterling]
'Picasso and Modern British Art' is a tribute to those in Britain who championed the cause of the 20th century's most daring visual artist. The Spanish master's first British admirers were predominantly artists, foremost among them Clive and Vanessa Bell who in 1911 purchased Jars and Lemon (made in 1907, the same year as Les Demoiselles d'Avignon). In subsequent years Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland, David Hockney and many others also fell under his spell. Indeed, it is hard to think of a major British modernist who remained immune.
But apart from Roland Penrose and Douglas Cooper, Picasso's greatest advocates, the pioneering early collectors of Picasso's art have been buried in obscure records of provenance--buried, that is, until this exhibition, which assembles works of his that have passed through British collections. Now the contributions of people like C. Frank Stoop, who purchased and eventually bequeathed Girl in a Chemise (c. 1905), the Tate's most prized Blue Period painting, can be appreciated for the first time. Similarly, who before the present show had heard of Frank Hindley Smith, Mrs R.A. Workman, Hugh Willoughby or Michael Sadler? And yet they acquired works by Picasso long before institutions like the Tate and the Royal Academy considered him a major talent. Most of their purchases were subsequently lost to British public collections, despite strenuous efforts to retain them.
As press cuttings and cartoons...