Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto, commonly known as “The Absinthe Drinker”, is one of the best and most celebrated Pablo Picasso’s portrait paintings. Signed and dated in 1903. Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto has also clearly demonstrated his extraordinarily work during Picasso’s Blue Period (1901–1904); the crucial period in his early 20’s career.
Picasso’s Blue Period consist of paintings which express the characteristic of tense, grave, gloomy or melancholy mood. Paintings dominated by shades of blue and blue-green, only occasionally warmed by other colors.
Similarly, in this paintings of Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto, the artwork depicted an insight into the subject’s life and circle of friends. Elegantly dressed sitter, portraying with his glass of absinthe and his pipe. His depressed look attribute a particularly intense gaze to viewers. The bold, loose, swirling brushstrokes and the cloud of smoke hovering above him, has perfectly manifested a distinguished characteristic afflicting to inner agitation and sadness.
Picasso referred Angel, who was also a painter, as an ‘amusing wastrel.’; literally a lazy person who does not try to achieve anything in life. And it so true that Angel was indulged to drinking and partying, than to the enthusiasm in art.
Angel and Picasso twice shared studios in Barcelona, the second time being during the 1903 trip when Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto was painted. This was the same studio in Riera de Sant Joan that Picasso formerly shared with his friend and fellow artist Carles Casagemas, whose suicide had partly inspired the Blue Period.
Immersed again in these surroundings and these friends, Picasso’s Blue aesthetic flourished, culminating in portraits such as Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto which introduced a revolutionary, subjective psychological quality.
Famous artworks of Picasso’s portrait painting during this Blue Period has now in museum collections. Works includes, Portrait of Sebastià Junyent (1904), Sebastià Junyer-Vidal (1904), Portrait of Señora Soler, Portrait of Benet Soler, and The Soler Family
Recently announced by Christie’s on 17th March 2010, Picasso paintings on Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto, will be offered in the evening auction of Impressionist and Modern Art in London on 23 June 2010. Christie’s will be priced at £30 million to £40 million and all the proceeds will benefit The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, a charity founded by the celebrated composer in 1992.
The paintings, Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto, has received much controversy on ownership claims, during an earlier auction in 2006. To the extend that the auction was called off and deemed as an unsuccessful sales.
Click here to read more in this press release by Christie’s – Fine Art Actions.