Pride of place at a new Laing Art Gallery exhibition will go to a celebrated and valuable Picasso painting on loan from the Tate
14 February 2015
A priceless Picasso painting will have pride of place in the next big exhibition a tNewcastle’s Laing Art Gallery.
The striking painting, Weeping Woman, is one of several done by the great Spanish artist in protest at the bombing of the Basque town of Guernica in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.
Picasso first expressed his outrage in a huge anti-war mural, called simply Guernica, which shows the devastating effect of the attack on civilians by German and Italian bombers in support of the Spanish nationalists led by General Franco.
Sarah Richardson, keeper of art at the Laing, said: “The big Guernica picture is in Madrid and is not allowed to travel because it got pretty knocked about in the years after the Spanish Civil War.
“But this is one of the Guernica paintings that Picasso did after completing the mural.
“I think it’s a great work. Weeping Woman shows Picasso’s mistress, Dora Maar, in this very fragmented way to show the agony of the people of Guernica.
“In her weeping eyes you can see the outline of the bombers.”
The 1937 painting by Pablo Picasso, a Spaniard, will be the highlight of the exhibition Conscience and Conflict: British Artists and the Spanish Civil War, depicting the response of artists in this country to the conflict and looking at their connection with their European counterparts.
The exhibition will feature work by British artists including Wyndham Lewis, Edward Burra and Julian Trevelyan but the angry Picasso portrait is expected to be the big draw to the latest of the Laing exhibitions for which an admission fee will be charged.
“We don’t have a Picasso in the (Laing) collection and I can’t remember us showing a painting by Picasso while I’ve been here,” said Sarah Richardson.
“It’s not something you get the opportunity to do very often. You really have to go to London or Edinburgh to have easy access to his work.”
As well as Weeping Woman, the exhibition will feature two Picasso etchings, The Dream and Lie of Franco I and II, which scream the artist’s outrage at the Guernica atrocity while lampooning Franco for his delusions of grandeur.
The etchings, usually on display in Edinburgh, belong in the collection of the late Roland Penrose, a British artist who in 1938 brought the fragile Guernica mural to Britain to raise money to support the republican cause in Spain.
Weeping Woman has been in the collection of the Tate in London since 1987 when it was given to the Government in lieu of tax, with an additional part of the purchase price raised from organisations including the National Heritage Memorial Fund, The Art Fund and the Friends of the Tate.
It has to be called priceless because it is not up for sale but two years ago a Picasso painting, Le Rêve, changed hands in a private deal for £102m.
The Laing Art Gallery, which enjoys the status of a designated collection, is covered by a Government indemnity scheme when exhibiting valuable works of art.
Conscience and Conflict: British Artists and the Spanish Civil War will run at the Laing from March 7 to June 7 2015.