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Culture

Cologne Museum Enriched with Priceless Picassos

A generous donation of Picassos by an art patron has turned the spotlight on Cologne's Museum Ludwig.

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"Seated Woman" by Pablo Picasso

The widow of German art patron Peter Ludwig has offered to donate 774 works by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso to Museum Ludwig in Cologne, which bears her late husband’s name.

The museum, located next to the historic, imposing cathdral is already home to a large collection of works by Picasso -considered by many to be the most important artist of the 20th century.

With this magnanimous gesture, the western German city, a leading arts and media centre, will be home to the world's biggest collection of Picassos after Paris and Barcelona.

The donation includes 49 unique works, 29 ceramics, 37 works in paper, 15 relief plates and 681 graphic prints. All are currently on loan to Cologne's Lugwig Museum.

During his lifetime, Peter Ludwig amassed one of the biggest private art collections in the world, estimated at 20,000 works, ranging from Greek antiquities and Latin American gold objects to Picassos and Pop art.

He first donated 300 works of art to the city in 1976 to form the basis for the Ludwig Museum.

In 1994 the Irene and Peter Ludwig donated a number of world-famous Picassos, including "Woman with Artichoke" from 1941 and a "Harlequin" from 1923.

But the couple stipulated that the Picassos must be housed in an ultra-modern museum near Cologne's historic cathedral. Authorities had to spend millions of marks to build a new museum for an existing collection of works from the Renaissance to the Impressionists.

Peter Ludwig was the first German collector to spot the potential of Pop art and became famous for purchasing works by Roy Lichtenstein and Jasper Johns, now worth millions of dollars. The famously publicity-shy collector died in 1996.

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