On the back of Picasso’s Still Life with Fan: "L'Indépendant" (1911), is a small label, serrated on three sides and printed with the number 3357, an inventory number that has been linked to the Parisian gallery of Ambroise Vollard (1866–1939). While Vollard’s archives are available to scholars, his gallery stockbooks covering the years 1908–17 have been lost, and it is in these books that this painting would have been recorded.
It is likely that Vollard purchased the painting within a year or so of its creation, surely prior to December 1912 when Picasso signed an exclusive three-year contract with Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler. That contract specified that Kahnweiler would pay the artist 500 francs for each size-12 painting (which corresponds to the dimensions of Still life with Fan: “L’Indépendant”), yet Vollard is known to have paid only 400 francs for the work.
Vollard had hosted Picasso’s first Parisian exhibition in 1901, but the dealer did not consider it a success and neither offered the artist a contract nor made substantial acquisitions at the time. Nevertheless, Vollard made occasional purchases from Picasso over the years. In April 1910, Vollard acquired seven works for 2,000 francs and later that autumn paid 950 francs for nine more, a group thought to have included four near-abstract paintings that Picasso created in the summer of 1910 in Cadaqués, Spain. Kahnweiler did not consider these latter works to be finished and declined to buy them; Vollard not only purchased them, but also exhibited them in a display devoted to Picasso’s work held at his gallery in December 1910.