- "Cubist sketch. I've been trying to get Pablo to sell me one of these cubist pieces since January."
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler was a German-born art dealer and historian who championed and befriended upcoming artists. In 1907, he opened a gallery in Paris and helped to promote Cubism through displaying and selling the works of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. He also helped to establish modern art dealing practices and served as both an art and literary publisher. Though German-born, most of his career was spent in France.
In September 1908, Kahnweiler was a guest at a party thrown by Picasso in honor of Henri Rousseau in the upstairs of Le Lapin Agile. Attending this party were many who were part of the Montmartre art and cultural scene. He was admiring art with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas when Fernande Olivier introduced him to two young Americans, Indiana Jones and Norman Rockwell.
Near the end of the party, Kahnweiler was examining the Degas painting when Jones showed it to Miss Seymour. Kahnweiler inquired how long Picasso had owned it and how much he had paid for it. Then, Kahnweiler offered one thousand francs to Picasso for the unsigned masterpiece. Picasso agreed to sell it on the condition that he would be present to witness Degas sign the painting.
The next day, Kahnweiler and Picasso waited at Le Lapin Agile for Degas to show up. After greeting the maestro, Kahnweiler showed off the masterpiece and convinced Degas to sign it. Even though Degas didn't recall the painting, he signed it, and Picasso boasted that the painting was actually created by him. Kahnweiler was shocked and asked Picasso to apologize.
Shifting the situation away from Degas and Picasso, Jones offered to sell Kahnweiler a sketch by Picasso. Kahnweiler, who had been unable to buy Picasso's cubist works for a time, immediately offered 500 francs for it. Degas, Rockwell and Braque marveled at how brilliant the piece was, and Kahnweiler increased his offer to 800. After Picasso denied drawing the sketch, but later recanted the denial, Kahnweiler assumed that Picasso was joking around, and offered one thousand francs for it. Jones immediately accepted the money. Kahnweiler, pleased with having bought two wonderful pieces, left the restaurant.
Behind the scenes
- The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles – "Paris, September 1908"" → Passion for Life
- Masters of the Louvre