National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Family of Saltimbanques Pablo Picasso (artist)
Spanish, 1881 - 1973
Family of Saltimbanques, 1905
oil on canvas
overall: 212.8 x 229.6 cm (83 3/4 x 90 3/8 in.) framed: 240.4 x 256.3 cm (94 5/8 x 100 7/8 in.)
Chester Dale Collection
© 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Not on View
From the Tour: Selections from the Modern and Contemporary Collections
Object 1 of 8


Purchased 1909 from the artist by André Level, Paris, for the collection of La Peau de l'Ours;[1] (their sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 2 March 1914, no. 63, as Les bateleurs); purchased by (Modernen Galerie Heinrich Thannhauser, Munich); sold between November 1914 and June 1915 to Hertha Koenig [1884-1976], Munich.[2] (Valentine Gallery, New York); sold 10 February 1931 to Chester Dale [1883-1962], New York;[3] bequest 1963 to NGA.

[1] Provenance compiled from information in NGA curatorial records.

[2] The fifth Elegy by the German author Rainer Maria Rilke is dedicated to his friend and the owner of the painting, Hertha Koenig, a poet and promoter of art and artists. In November 1914, Rilke wrote to her that he had seen the painting at Thannhauser. In June 1915, while he was living in Munich and finding it difficult to obtain suitable lodgings, Rilke asked Koenig whether, while she and her family were in the country, he might live for a while in her house, and enjoy the privilege of living beside "the great Picasso." His request was granted, and he lived there from June until October. On June 28, in a letter to Thankmar Freiherr von Münchhausen, Rilke wrote that he was "sitting here in the apartment of friends...with the finest Picasso (the 'Saltimbanques'), in which there is so much Paris that, for the moment, I forget." (Wartime Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke 1914-1921, translated by M.D. Herter Norton, New York, 1940: 29-30). See also Rainer Maria Rilke: Duino Elegies. The German Text, with an English Translation, Introduction, and Commentary by J.B. Leishman and Stephen Spender, New York, 1939: 101-102.

[3] For Chester Dale's account of his acquisition of this painting from a bank in Switzerland, through Valentine Dudensing, see Dale's unpublished autobiography, Archives of American Art, microfilm reel #3969 (copies NGA curatorial files).

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