Garçon à la pipe

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Garçon à la pipe
English: Boy with a Pipe
Garçon à la pipe.jpg
ArtistPablo Picasso
MediumOil on canvas
MovementPicasso's Rose Period, Post-Impressionism
Dimensions100 cm × 81.3 cm (39.4 in × 32.0 in)
LocationPrivate collection

Garçon à la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe) is a painting by Pablo Picasso. It was painted in 1905 when Picasso was 24 years old, during his Rose Period, soon after he settled in the Montmartre section of Paris, France. The oil on canvas painting depicts a Parisian boy holding a pipe in his left hand and wearing a garland or wreath of flowers.

The painting was famously sold at a 2004 auction for $104 million, a price many art critics consider incongruous with the painting's actual artistic merit.[1]

The painting[edit]


Early preparations of this work involved positioning the boy in all types of poses that involved standing, sitting or leaning against the wall.[2] After much repositioning of the model, Picasso decided to go with the boy sitting down. Next was how to position the arm, where much time was also spent on the height and angle. Early works do not show any objects other than a pipe being used.

Although Picasso started to paint this picture, he gave it a rest period for about a month. During this time, Picasso decided to finish it off by placing a garland of flowers on the boy's head.[2]

The boy[edit]

Picasso lived at the Le Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre when he painted the picture. Some of the local people made a living in the entertainment industry, such as being clowns or acrobats. Picasso used many local people in his pictures, but little is known about the boy in the picture.

What appears to be fact from comments made from a variety of sources is that the boy was a model in his teen years who hung around Picasso's studio and volunteered to pose for the oil work.[3] Picasso's own comments about the boy were that he was one of the:

local types, actors, ladies, gentlemen, delinquents... He stayed there, sometimes the whole day. He watched me work. He loved that.

From this comment, suppositions can be made. The first is that Picasso did not want people to know who the boy is, and the second is Picasso did not really know the boy. However, many reports have been made that say the boy is “p’tit Louis”,[2][4] or "Little Louis".[5]


The painting was first bought by John Hay Whitney in 1950 for US$30,000.[6][7]

On May 5, 2004 the painting was sold for US$104,168,000 at Sotheby's auction in New York City. Sotheby’s did not name the buyer[7] though sources say that it was Guido Barilla, co-owner of the Barilla Group.[8] At the time, it broke the record for the amount paid for an auctioned painting (when inflation is ignored). The amount, US$104 million, includes the auction price of US$93 million plus the auction house’s commission of about US$11 million.[7] The painting was given a pre-sale estimate of US$70 million by the auction house.[6][7]

Many art critics have stated that the painting's high sale price has much more to do with the artist's name than with the merit or historical importance of the painting. The Washington Post's article[1][9] on the sale contained the following characterisation of the reaction:

Picasso expert Pepe Karmel, reached in New York the morning after the sale, was waxing wroth about the whole affair. "I'm stunned," he said, "that a pleasant, minor painting could command a price appropriate to a real masterwork by Picasso. This just shows how much the marketplace is divorced from the true values of art."

In popular culture[edit]

Calvin Harris' 2017 song "Slide" contains the lyrics "I might empty my bank account and buy that boy with a pipe". Vocalist Frank Ocean explained that it is an allusion to: “A Picasso painting that sold for so much money.”. [10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gopnik, Blake (May 7, 2004). "A Record Picasso and the Hype Price of Status Objects". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 28, 2016. "[...] it's unlikely there's a single art historian who would rate this Rose Period picture [...] as among the 100 most important Western art works ever made. You'd have a hard time finding someone who would put it in the top 1,000. Top 10,000, anyone?"
  2. ^ a b c "ART / 4 / 2DAY". Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  3. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  4. ^ ES. "Crème de la Crème: Most Expensive Paintings". Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  5. ^ "Culture, Entertainment and Art". Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  6. ^ a b "Entertainment | Picasso painting sells for $104m". BBC News. 2004-05-06. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  7. ^ a b c d "Picasso's 'Boy with a Pipe' sells for $104 million - Entertainment - The Arts -". Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  8. ^ Claire Foy-Smith, Who buys paintings for $104m?, BBC News Online, 6 May 2004
  9. ^ Boy with Pipe or Garcon a la Pipe, 1905 (archived), The Artist Pablo Picasso
  10. ^ Bychawski, Adam. Fact Mag Retrieved 30 May 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]