National Museum buys rare glass Picasso sculpture

A STRIKING glass sculpture by Pablo Picasso, inspired by a sleeping goat, has been snapped up by one of Scotland’s leading visitor attractions.

Sarah Rothwell, assistant curator of modern and contemporary design with a rare Picasso glass sculpture, called Capra, at the National Museum Scotland in Edinburgh. Picture: Hemedia
Sarah Rothwell, assistant curator of modern and contemporary design with a rare Picasso glass sculpture, called Capra, at the National Museum Scotland in Edinburgh. Picture: Hemedia

The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh has paid £22,500 to snap up the the rare piece, which the Spanish artist designed in 1954.

Made from black, white and iridescent glass, it will be one of 3,000 exhibits being brought together for the first time and displayed in 10 new galleries due to be unveiled at the museum next year.

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Curators believed the have scored a major coup by securing the artist’s original “proof” of the work, which another seven variants were made of.

Sarah Rothwell, assistant curator of modern and contemporary design with a rare Picasso glass sculpture, called Capra, at the National Museum Scotland in Edinburgh. Picture: Greg Macvean

It will be on show along with a number of Picasso-design ceramic pieces by Picasso, as well as an intricate jewellery piece he created.

Art and design, fashion and style, and science and technology innovations will all be celebrated in the new displays, which are being created as part of a £14.1 million project, in the third phase of an £80 million overhaul of the Victorian building.

The Picasso work, simply entitled Capra, which was bought at Sotheby’s in London, is expecpted to be one of the star attraction in the “Making and Creative” gallery, which will showcase art and design from the 1950s to the present day.

Designed by the Spanish artist in 1954 and manufactured by Italian glassmaker Egidio Constantini, shortly after the pair had met for the first time in the French town of Vallaurius, the sculpture is believed to have previously been in the hands of a private collector.

The work, which dates from a time when Picasso had just started developing an interest in designing glasswork, was one of a number of glass sculptures that saw Piccasso draw inspiration from spirits, monsters or animals.

Rose Watban, senior curator of modern and contemporary art and design at the museum, said: “We bought the sculpture at a sale of important Picasso ceremics last month.

“There were a few lithographs in the sale, but this was the only piece of glass that was in the auction, so I feel we were very lucky to get it.

“I’ve always wanted to have acquire a piece of Picasso glass, but there is far less of it available than his other works. What there is doesn’t come up for sale very often at all.

“It’s very rare that you get the chance to see of his glass work in a gallery or museum. There is some in the Guggenheim museum in Venice, but I’m not aware of any in the UK.

“I do think it’ll be one of the star attractions in the Making and Creating gallery. Picasso’s ceremics were very little known until the last 15-20 years or so and his glasswork is even less well known because there is so little of it.

“He didn’t really work on any glasswork until he met Constantini and by then he was a hugely-established artist.”