Picasso artwork goes on display in Cheltenham

Work by world-famous artist, Pablo Picasso, is on display at Cheltenham's The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum as part of a new exhibition this March 2024 — and you can view it for free!

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
Artworks by Pablo Picasso, Amadeo Modigliani and Vanessa Bell are on display at The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum in Cheltenham.

Art lovers in Cheltenham can see a piece by world-famous artist Pablo Picasso at The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum, thanks to a new exhibition.

'Radev' features 79 pieces from the collection of Bulgarian migrant and art collector, Mattei Radev, and tells a story of 'love, friendship and creativity amongst some of Britain’s greatest artists and collectors' — as well as documenting an important moment in Britain's queer history.

Mattei Radev fled persecution in his home country in 1950 and settled in London, where he became a picture framer.

He made friends with The Bloomsbury Group — which included the likes of Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West and E. M. Forster — and went on to work with some of the greatest artists of the 20th century.

The Radev Collection was originally started by writer Eddy Sackville-West, who left it to his former lover, art dealer Eardley Knollys, when he died in 1965. Knollys added to the collection and in turn, left it to Mattei Radev when he died in 1991. 

The exhibition explores the relationships between the three collectors and — alongside the Picasso — features iconic works by Amadeo Modigliani, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, as well as recreations of the expressive and creative homes these collections were built around, displayed alongside pieces from the Wilson Collection and new work by Luke Edward-Hall. 

Mattei's story has also been recreated in a new book commissioned for the exhibition by bestselling children's author, Robert Tregoning.

The Cheltenham Trust's head of culture, Lisa Edgar, said: 'The Wilson is excited to present a remarkable story of survival, love and kindness set against a backdrop of the British art world generating this extraordinary collection of 20th century art.

'We’re also proud to be collaborating with artist Luke Edward-Hall, best-selling children’s author Robert Tregoning, and our partners at Charleston to bring this story to life.'

Cheltenham councillor Julian Tooke, who was friends with Mattei, added: 'I was introduced to Mattei when I was doing an MA dissertation on E. M. Forster in 1990 because of his connection to the writer. Mattei became my friend. I am delighted that 34 years later I have helped in bringing his art collection to Cheltenham.

'It’s a celebration of his remarkable life.'

'Radev' is at The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum until Sunday 1 September 2024 and is free to visit. 

More on The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum

More from Culture