Saturday, June 30, 2012
Picasso's oil on linen entitled "Retrato de Modesto Castillo," sold at Christie's London for £2,169,250 ($3,399,215 / €2,691,453) during the Impressionist/Modern Day Sale on June 21, widely surpassing the highest auction house expectations (£100,000 - £150,000).
The work was painted by Pablo Picasso in 1895 at the age of 13, during the last months of his time living with his family at the 2nd floor of 14 de Payo Gómez, located in Corunna (Coruña, Galicia, North-West Spain), where his father, José Ruiz Blasco, had acquired a position teaching art.
Picasso's daughter Maya Widmaier-Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of the painting.
At this stage of his life, Picasso already presented a remarkable draughtsmanship and indubitable talent, clearly shown on this portrait of Modesto Castilla y Casal wearing a Mourish disguise.
Modesto was the natural son - out of matrimony - of Dr. Ramón Pérez Costales.
Born in Oviedo and former Fostering and Fine Arts Minister, Dr. Ramón would become Picasso's first patron.
Renowned biographer of Pablo Picasso, John Richardson, considers this age a relevant period in the artist's life, when his skills improved soon after his sister's death.
Palau i Fabre, an expert in Picasso when he lived in Corunna (1891-1895), estimates the existance of 15 to 20 works that he considers the first adult ones, completed during this period.
The work in question follows an interesting path until nowadays: Having deceased with no legitimate inheritors, Dr. Ramón Costalez left his legacy to the maid-servant.
According to art critic Pablo Todela, the painting was bought by the Corunna born painter José María de Labra in late 1940's early 1950's, later selling it to a German museum.
The portrait of Modesto Castilla shows up later as part of the collection of M. Bruh, who acquired the painting through an anonymous bid at Sotheby's, London, 1 July 1964, lot 176, and thence by descent to the owner who decided to sell it at auction through Christie's London.
Consulted source: Article by Ana Rodríguez (La Opinión newspaper, Coruña)