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On loan from a private collection, © Private Collection

At the age of 20, Picasso returned to Paris in 1901. Excited by the city’s vibrant art scene and flamboyant characters, he painted with explosive new conviction.

This portrait shows Bibi, a well-known eccentric from bohemian Montmartre. A former actor and inveterate absinthe drinker, he was for sometime private secretary to the poet Paul Verlaine.

Painted in broad, gestural strokes and harsh colours, the portrait captures Bibi’s grotesque energy.

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