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Museum's first Picasso still life

10 November 09 06:59 GMT

The first oil painting by Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century, has been bought by National Museum Wales.

The work, Still Life with Poron, was painted in Picasso's Paris studio in December 1948.

It has been bought from a London gallery for more than £1.4m.

Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones said the acquisition reflects the commitment to transform the museum into "a place to see world-class art".

The work has been bought by the museum through its Centenary Fund, which was created with match funding from the Derek Williams Trust over a five-year period.

The charity The Art Fund also contributed £100,000 to the cost.

Although a post World War II painting, Still Life with Poron - which features a lobster, a lemon and a traditional Spanish wine pitcher - makes reference to Picasso's single most important innovation, the development of Cubism in the first decade of the last century.

Oliver Fairclough, the museum's keeper of art, said the purchase is important for the institution.

"Amguedda Cymru (National Museum Wales) has four works on paper by Picasso and acquired a significant group of the artist's autograph ceramics for the collection as part of the Centenary Fund last year.

"Although this is a good representation of Picasso's work, an oil painting was missing.

"Still Life with Poron completes our portrayal of one of the greatest geniuses of the last century."

Highly competitive market

The Picasso connects the museum's great 'School of Paris' works - Manet, Monet, van Gogh and Cezanne - with some of its most important paintings of the post war period, including the work of artists such as Ceri Richards and Graham Sutherland.

Michael Houlihan, the museum's director general, said: "We are grateful to the independent trusts who have made this purchase possible, namely Cardiff-based charity the Derek Williams Trust, our partners in the Centenary Fund and The Art Fund, who have provided generous support.

"Without the backing of such trusts, museums and art galleries would find it extremely difficult to develop their collections in what continues to remain a highly competitive market for such great pieces."

Ivan Sadka, chairman of the Derek Williams Trust, said: "Bringing this painting into the National Museum's collection is a fitting tribute to our founder Derek Williams who died 25 years ago this month, as he had a passion for the art of the mid 20th Century."

Picasso's Still Life with Poron goes on display to the public at the Cardiff museum from Tuesday.

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