The papers of Sabartés and Picasso’s letters

The Jaume Sabartés archive is kept here at the Picasso Museum. It arrived in two different instalments, the first, when Sabartés died in 1968, and bequeathed part of his archive to the museum in his will. Picasso himself sent the documents to the museum and they were received by Josep Selva on the 16th of February in 1968. The next part was purchased from the Miquel Alzueta gallery on the 29th of September in 2008. The archive brings together part of the documentation that Jaume Sabartés – writer, personal secretary and great friend and confidante of Picasso- had amassed between 1935 and 1968, the year of his death.
Jaume Sabartés

Jacqueline Roque. Jaume Sabartés in La Californie. Cannes, 25th December 1956. Photograph with silver salts, 30 x 24 cm. Photograph signed and dedicated to Jacqueline (on the back). Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Fons Jaume Sabartés. Acquisition, 2008. Photo: Museu Picasso Archive, Barcelona


The first part of the collection, was delivered in 1968, by Picasso at the wish of Sabartés and arrived in two cardboard boxes tied together with leather laces. Currently, we are working on the most definitive way to preserve these works, given that Picasso’s express wish was that they would not be published until 50 years had gone by.

Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Barcelona, June 2009.


From what has been studied to date, the files are primarily correspondence between Picasso and Sabartés, consisting of approximately 700 texts that Picasso sent between 1935 and 1968, the more substantial parts of the correspondence beginning from 1945. The topics of the communication between the two tend to be principally daily concerns and administrative tasks that Sabartés, as Picasso’s secretary, took care of. Despite these everyday themes, Picasso’s tone is affectionate and displays great esteem for his friend “Jaumet.” Of course, the notes are attractive, scribed by Picasso’s hand, at one moment written in black pen, the next in blue, he even combined colourful crayons for a brief note of just two lines; in short, Picasso.

Carta de Picasso a Jaume SabartésLetter from Pablo Picasso to Jaume Sabartés. Cannes, 7th May 1964. Handwritten ink, black, blue and green markers, 17 x 21 cm. Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Fons Jaume Sabartés. Donation, 1968. Photo: Museu Picasso Archive, Barcelona


Carta de Picasso a Jaume SabartésLetter from Pablo Picasso to Jaume Sabartés. Cannes, 4th February 1957. Handwritten ink, blue and green markers, 21 x 27 cm. Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Fons Jaume Sabartés. Donation, 1968. Photo: Museu Picasso Archive, Barcelona


The second part, brought in 2008 from another art gallery, was delivered to the museum in several different boxes with the documents grouped into sections that corresponded to their sale value. Therefore, when the materials deposited reached the museum they were grouped according to their economic value rather than the original structuring intention of their creator. First the documents were registered as received and then assigned to their corresponding section (the archive organization chart). Afterwards the documents were evaluated and studied to try, as exhaustively as possible, to return the collection to its original structure as designated by its creator and to properly classify the archive (with functional classification and description on three levels). Parallel to the archiving process, task of preservation and care of the works was undertaken and, finally, the process of digitalization of the archive.

Sobre del fons SabartésPhoto: Museu Picasso, Barcelona


The archive consists of a diverse range of typology from textual, inconographic, hemerographic, photographic and so on. It reflects the professional trajectory of Sabartés and his relationship with Picasso: including the dealings with editors to get his scripts published, personal writings, research to write Picasso’s biography, or plans to pass on his estate- that is the donation of Picasso’s collection of work from Barcelona and from the Biblioteca de Málaga. From the collection of documentation some outstanding pieces are the many machine written documents by Sabartés and more than 600 photos that are a testimony to the relationship between Picasso and his secretary and friend. Two poems, written and autographed by Picasso and dedicated to Sabartés are also particularly eye catching for their special personal value.

As for the bibliographical documentation, the archive includes more than a hundred publications, many with dedications from their authors, such Kahnweiler, Penrose and Éluard.


Sílvia Domènech

Centre of Knowledge and Research

1 Comment
  • Michael E Guinn
    September 15, 2018

    Is there anything in the material that was not to be opened for 50 years that was odd or damaging to someone’s reputation?

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