Monday 11 April 2016

The National Portrait Gallery is to stage a major exhibition of portraits by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) this autumn, it was announced today, Monday 11 April 2016.   

Picasso Portraits (6 October 2016-5 February 2017), sponsored by Goldman Sachs, and in association with the Museu Picasso, Barcelona, will include over 75 portraits by the artist in all media, ranging from well-known masterpieces to works that have never been shown in Britain before.

The latter include the extraordinary cubist portrait from 1910 of the German art dealer and early champion of Picasso’s work, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, loaned by the Art Institute of Chicago; and from a private collection the exquisite portrait executed in 1938 of Nusch Eluard, acrobat, artist and wife of the Surrealist poet Paul Eluard.  

All phases of the artist’s career will be represented, from the realist portraits of his boyhood to the more gestural canvases of his old age. It is the first large-scale exhibition devoted to his portraiture since Picasso and Portraiture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Grand Palais, Paris in 1996.

Because Picasso did not work to commission and depicted people in his intimate circle, he enjoyed exceptional freedom as a portraitist and worked in different modes as well as many different styles. Formal posed portraits coexisted with witty caricatures, classic drawings from life with expressive paintings created from memory reflecting his understanding of the sitter’s identity and character. 

The exhibition includes a group of revealing self-portraits as well as portraits and caricatures of Picasso’s friends, lovers, wives and children.  Guillaume Apollinaire, Carles Casagemas, Santiago Rusiñol, Jaume Sabartés, Jean Cocteau, Igor Stravinsky, Fernande Olivier, Olga Picasso, Marie-Thérèse Walter, Dora Maar, Lee Miller, Françoise Gilot and Jacqueline Picasso are among the people visitors will encounter.  Complementing these images of Picasso’s intimates are portraits and caricatures inspired by artists of the past – Velázquez and Rembrandt among them – with whom he identified most closely.

The Museu Picasso, Barcelona is lending most generously to the National Portrait Gallery.  Other lending institutions include: the British Museum; Tate;  Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Musée national Picasso, Paris; Centre Pompidou, Paris;  Musée national d’art moderne de la ville de Paris; Museum Berggruen, Berlin; Fondation Hubert Looser, Zurich; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Philadelphia Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Iceland.  The exhibition also benefits from important loans from the artist’s heirs and other private collectors.

The copiously illustrated catalogue provides an original, broadly based account of Picasso’s portraiture and analysis of every work on display.  Among the issues explored in detail are the artist’s sources of inspiration, differences between his approach to portraying men and women, and the complex motivation behind his switches of mode and style and defiance of representational norms.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘We are delighted to stage Picasso Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, a collaboration with Museu Picasso, Barcelona, which focuses on the artist’s reinvention of time-honoured conventions of portraiture, and his genius for caricature. The exhibition gathers together major loans from public and private collections that demonstrate the breadth of Picasso’s oeuvre and the extraordinary range of styles he employed across all media and from all periods of his career.’

Bernardo Laniado-Romero, Director, Museu Picasso, Barcelona, says: ‘The two organising museums, one dedicated to portraiture and the other to Picasso, are the natural instruments to bring forth a reassessment on how Picasso, time and time again, redefined portraiture throughout the twentieth century. The exhibition will surprise and confront one’s preconceived ideas of what a portrait should be and how a portrait by Picasso ought to look like.’

The support of the exhibition’s sponsor Goldman Sachs is enabling the Gallery to introduce for the first time a special ticket offer, whereby every Friday morning throughout the run of Picasso Portraits, the first 100 tickets will be £5. In addition they are supporting a wide ranging Learning programme linked to the exhibition.

Michelle Pinggera, Partner, Goldman Sachs, says: ‘We are extremely proud to partner with the National Portrait Gallery to bring this fascinating exhibition to London. Goldman Sachs has a long history of supporting arts and culture in the UK and through our sponsorship, we are very pleased to be able to support the Gallery’s wider access and learning programme linked to this exhibition.’

Picasso Portraitsiscurated by Elizabeth Cowling, Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at the University of Edinburgh.  Her publications include Picasso: Style and Meaning  (2002) and Visiting Picasso: The Notebooks and Letters of Roland Penrose (2006). She has co-curated several exhibitions, including Picasso Sculptor/Painter (1994), Matisse Picasso (2002–3), and Picasso Looks at Degas (2010–11).  


6 October 2016 -5 February 2017, at the National Portrait Gallery, London  
Sponsored by Goldman Sachs

Tickets with donation: Full price £19 / Concessions £17.50
Tickets without donation Full price £17 / Concessions £15.50 (Free for Members and Patrons)
  or 020 7321 6600

£5 Fridays with Goldman Sachs

The first 100 tickets for every Friday morning during the exhibition are just £5

Press View: Wednesday 5 October 2016 10.00-12.00 (with a tour at 10.30).


The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated book by curator Professor Elizabeth Cowling andwill be available to purchase from the National Portrait Gallery shops priced £35 hardback and £24.95 paperback.


Museu Picasso, Barcelona(17 March–25 June 2017)

For further Press information, please contact: Neil Evans, Media Relations Manager, National Portrait Gallery: Tel. 020 7 312 2452 (not for publication) / Email [email protected]  

To download press releases and images, please go to:

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place WC2H 0HE, opening hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10.00 – 18.00 (Gallery closure commences at 17.50) Late Opening: Thursday, Friday: 10.00 – 21.00  (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) Nearest Underground: Leicester Square/Charing Cross General information: 0207 306 0055  Recorded information: 020 7312 2463  Website 


Museu Picasso, Barcelona

The Museu Picasso principal objective is to promote a better understanding of Picasso and his work. It is one of the leading museums devoted exclusively to Pablo Picasso and was the first one in the world to open, over 50 years ago. Its collection includes key pieces from his formative years and unrivalled examples of his work as a printmaker—it is the only art centre to possess an entire series by Picasso: Las Meninas. Housed in a striking architectural setting of five buildings in Catalan Gothic style, its collection is a living testament to the artist's ties with Barcelona.

Goldman Sachs

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and high-net-worth individuals. Founded in 1869, the firm is headquartered in New York and maintains offices in all major financial centers around the world.