Picasso Museum of Barcelona

Decadent Poet
With the inscription “POETA DECADENTE” inthe top right-hand corner and dedicatedRecuerdo para J.Sabartés/de antes de siglo de su amigo Picasso/ hoy 31 de octubre de/1950.
Barcelona, 1900
Charcoal and watercolour on paper
48 x 32 cm
Sabartés Collection
MPB 70.232

The Work

Some months after meeting who would be his intimate friend and, from 1935, personal secretary, the sculptor and writer Jaume Sabartés (1881-1968), Picasso produced two watercolour portraits of him. In their long relationship, Picasso produced many portraits of Sabartés in pencil or oil, many full of irony – an irony mixed with jokes and affection, complicity, which was the basis of their friendship.
In Decadent Poet, Sabartés wears a cape, a crown of roses on his head, with a lyre in one hand and a fleur-de-lis in the other which he holds delicately. He is placed at night-time in a place with crosses – a cemetery? – and flames – inspiration? – which Palau i Fabre in Picasso i els seus amics catalans describes as ‘Dante-esque Purgatory’. This portrait falls within the literary and artistic currents of fin-de-siècle 1800s Barcelona, offering a part comic part satirical view.


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Room 4