Purloined Pre-Dada Picabia Painting Recovered, Returned

‘La Rivière’ (1906) by Picabia. (Courtesy Sotheby’s/Le Figaro)

A very early Francis Picabia painting that was purloined from France’s Musée de Nevers in 1974 has been returned, after being identified at Christie’s London. According to the AFP, the work had been sold at auction, at both Sotheby’s and Christie’s, in three previous instances. (Thanks to Blouin Artinfo for pointing to the Le Figaro article on the subject.)

The painting in question, La Rivière, which shows a winding river in a forest, dates from 1906, when the young Picabia was trying his hand at Impressionist landscapes, well before he fell into Dadaist circles, making his machine drawings (probably his most iconic works) or the wild pin-up paintings and abstractions that would come later.

Things have really been looking up for Picabia recently. Michael Werner Gallery staged a really great survey of his work earlier this year, which I wrote about at the time, and a major U.S. museum is said to be at work on a large-scale retrospective. To celebrate all of this good news, here’s the 1924 film Entr’acte, which was directed by René Clair, which includes a sequence of Francis Picabia and Eric Satie firing a cannon. That starts at about 0:40.


Purloined Pre-Dada Picabia Painting Recovered, Returned