La Gommeuse

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Pablo Picasso, La Gommeuse, 1901, oil on canvas,31 7/8 by 21 1/4 in (81.3 by 54 cm)
Caricature of Pere Mañach on the reverse
Pere Mañach, 1901, National Gallery of Art

La Gommeuse [la ɡɔmøz] is a 1901 oil on canvas painting by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. It dates from his so-called Blue period and is noted for its caricature of Picasso's friend Pere Mañach painted on the reverse.[1][2] It was offered for sale ex the William I. Koch collection at a Sotheby's, New York, auction on 5 November 2015.[3] The painting realized $67.5 million at the sale, a record for a Blue period Picasso and placing the painting among the most expensive ever sold.[4]

Gommeuse was sexually charged slang of the time for café-concert singers and their songs.[3]


The painting was executed in the second half of 1901 following Picasso's successful exhibition at the Vollard gallery that June. This was at the start of his Blue period of 1901 to 1904, thought to have been occasioned by the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas earlier in the year, a time when his paintings were somewhat melancholic and characterized by somber monochromatic tones in blue and green.[3]

The caricature of Picasso's friend Pere Mañach on the reverse is inscribed "Recuerdo a Mañach en el día de su santo", demonstrating the painting was intended as a gift for Mañach on his Saint's Day (29 June). Mañach was a Catalan anarchist who shared Picasso's studio flat in the Boulevard de Clichy. He worked as a talent scout for art dealers and was responsible for organising Picasso's successful 1901 Vollard show. A portrait of Mañach, now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, was a feature of the show.[3]

See also[edit]


  • Ambroise Vollard, Paris
  • Demotte Gallery, New York (1931)
  • Josef von Sternberg, Hollywood (acquired from the above before 1935 and sold: Parke Bernet Galleries, New York, November 22, 1949, lot 89)
  • Perls Gallery, New York (acquired at the above sale)
  • Jacques Sarlie, New York (sold: Sotheby’s, London, October 12, 1960, lot 5)
  • Galerie Alex Maguy, Paris (acquired at the above sale)
  • William I. Koch (sale: Sotheby’s, London, December 4, 1984, lot 23 )
  • Private collection (sale: Sotheby's, New York, November 5, 2015, lot 26) [3]


  1. ^ Brown, Mark. "Blue period Picasso – with a little secret – goes under the hammer". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Singh, Anita. "The US billionaire who got two Picassos for the price of one". The Daily Telegraph.
  3. ^ a b c d e "La Gommeuse". Sotheby's.
  4. ^ Pogrebin, Robin. "Warmer Response at Sotheby's 2nd Night of Auctions". New York Times.