Ramón Reventós i Bordoy was a writer and journalist who was born in 1881 in Barcelona, son of master mason Isidre Reventós Amiguet and of Concepció Bordoy Tuyet. Of the nine children they had, the eldest brother Ramon, better known as Moni, and the second Jacint, nicknamed Cinto, were the members of the Reventós family with whom Picasso kept up the closest friendship.
Pablo Picasso. Ramon Reventós Bordoy. Barcelona, 1899-1900. Peinture à l’essence, charcoal and Conté crayon on paper. Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Gift of Pablo Picasso, 1970. MPB 110.872 © Successió Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2015 | Joan Vidal i Ventosa. Fernande Olivier, Pablo Picasso and Ramon Reventós at El Guayaba. 1906. Fons Joan Vidal Ventosa. Museu Picasso, Barcelona © Successió Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2015
Picasso met the Reventós family through Àngel Fernández de Soto, who introduced him to Ramon; both of them worked in the grocery store Mir i Suñol, located in Princesa street. Picasso started to go to the gatherings that were held in the family home of the Reventós along with intellectuals from the period, and became familiar with (and to). the Barcelona cultural milieu. Ramon Reventós and Picasso also frequented the tavern the Quatre Gats, along with many of the artists and intellectuals of the city. As Rocarol quoted in his memoires, among his friends Ramon was known for his hobbies with the nickname of “Traguito” (“swig”).
His professional career would soon lead him towards writing and he would become notable in the field of satire and humour as well as in that of art criticism. Ramon published stories and notes about art in several magazines, such as, for example, Luz, Quatre Gats, Papitu and Picarol (which he directed between 1912 and 1913). Furthermore, Picasso published an article of his in the magazine Arte Joven in 1901. As a form of posthumous homage Picasso illustrated the stories El capvespre d’un faune (The evening of a Faun) and El centaure picador (The centaur picador) which appeared in the Catalan edition of Dos Contes (Two tales) published for the first time in 1947, translated to French in 1948 and recently republished by the Fundació Picasso-Reventós.
Republication of the work Dos Contes by the Fundació Picasso-Reventós
Beyond the illustrations for his writings, Picasso also did several portraits of him during his life, as he also did with Jacint, some of which can currently be seen exhibited in the galleries of the temporary exhibition “Picasso and Reventós”. One of the portraits of Ramon and also of Jacint were shown in the exhibition that Picasso presented in the Quatre Gats in February 1900, his first solo exhibition.
The relation with the brothers was especially intense from the return of Picasso from Horta de Sant Joan in 1899 and until he left for Paris in 1904. However, they kept meeting up, as is illustrated in the photograph taken by Joan Vidal Ventosa in El Guayaba and above all they kept in touch by means of correspondence, as can be seen in the exhibition and in the publication Picasso and Reventós: a correspondence among friends.
The esteem that Picasso professed towards Ramon Reventós remained very clear in this quote of the artist expressed to Jacint Reventós Conti:
«Notice how much I loved your uncle, that when I had the idea of getting him known here in Paris it was during the war. I went on many days to the National Library, every day on foot, with all the dangers that this represented, to copy those two stories, and I copied them by hand. One day I will show them written in my own handwriting.» Picasso to Jacint Reventós Conti, to Picasso and Reventós (Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 1973, p. 20)
The last of the meetings between Ramon and Picasso was in 1917 during the stay of the artist in Barcelona between June and November of that same year. Ramon Reventós died on January 1st 1923, but the friendship of Picasso with the family was extended by almost a century.
Bibliography and references
Picasso i els Reventós. Pablo Picasso i Jacint Raventós Conti. Barcelona: GustavoGili 1973. Pàg. 20
Memòries de Josep Rocarol. Josep Rocarol i Faura. Pròleg de Josep Palau iFabre. Barcelona, 1999. Pàgs. 20-21.
Dos Contes. Ramon Reventós. Il·lustracions de Pablo Picasso. Fundació Picasso-Reventós. Barcelona, 2015.
Catàleg de l’exposició “Picasso Picasso i els 4 Gats. La clau de la modernitat”.Museu Picasso, Barcelona. 1995-96. Pàg. 308.
Picasso i Reventós: una correspondència entreamics. Marilyn McCully i Malén Gual Pascual. Fundació Museu Picasso deBarcelona, 2015.