Anne Sebba

Pablo & Paul

My Grandfather’s Gallery: A Legendary Art Dealer’s Escape from Vichy France

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Paul Rosenberg was the Parisian art dealer who orchestrated the career of Pablo Picasso, becoming his impresario, spokesperson, intermediary and close friend. ‘Picasso and Rosenberg promoted each other,’ explains his granddaughter Anne Sinclair. Rosenberg created Picasso’s image while Picasso was responsible for ‘definitively establishing the reputation of my grandfather’s gallery’. Picasso knew that if he showed his work at the Galerie Rosenberg, which specialised in Impressionist painting, he wouldn’t be categorised as just another avant-garde painter but would win his place in the company of masters of the previous century. Rosenberg steered the artist away from Cubism; Picasso, understanding the demands of the marketplace, was, according to Sinclair, thrilled to find a dealer who grasped his desire to escape that movement. Rosenberg established close friendships not only with Picasso but also with Matisse, Braque, Léger and Laurencin. But Rosenberg was Jewish and so, after the Nazi occupation of Paris in the summer of 1940, he and his family were forced to flee and to disperse – or hide, where possible – his collection of hundreds of paintings. Before the year was out the Rosenbergs were given exit visas for the United States.

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