Over 100 important ceramics by Pablo Picasso from a private collection will be auctioned in Sothebys
Bond Street salesroom on 19 March 2013. Picasso constantly explored opportunities to break creative boundaries and challenge himself in innovative ways. A chance encounter with the owners of the renowned Madoura pottery in Vallauris, Southern France in 1946, when the artist was 64 years of age, was the starting point for his exploration of a whole new creative medium. It sparked a fascination with ceramics that would last for the rest of his life, and would demonstrate his full artistic versatility, blending his interests in painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking. This important collection includes plates, vases, jugs, bowls and tiles designed by Picasso over a 20 year period, depicting a range of classical and mythical forms alongside portraits of animals and people. The individual pieces range from around £2,000 -£30,000, and in total the collection, which also comprises a wide selection of prints, is expected to achieve in excess of £970,000.
Séverine Nackers, Sothebys Head of Prints, Europe, said: The auction of such a comprehensive group of impressive ceramics by Pablo Picasso represents a wonderful opportunity for collectors to acquire their own work of art by one of the twentieth centurys most famous artists. Since the Royal Academys flagship exhibition of Picassos ceramics in 1998 there has been a renewed appreciation for the artists experimentations with this art form. This exemplary collection showcases Picassos dexterity in this field.
The collection is led by Picassos 13-piece Service Visage Noir. Created in 1948, the service drew public attention to Picassos activities in ceramics the following year, when the first set was presented as a wedding gift to Prince Aly Khan and Rita Hayworth. Estimated at £30,000 -£40,000, all 13 plates are decorated with the heads of fauns. Like all of the ceramics in the collection, the work demonstrates Picassos creative spontaneity, vibrancy and ability to reinterpret a traditional craft through his own language. The appeal of working in clay for the artist underscored his sense that he was not only part of a great tradition, but that he could bring a revitalised and unconventional approach to old techniques.
Picasso had first been invited to the Madoura pottery by the owners, Georges and Suzanne Ramié, in 1946. Finding himself particularly suited to the medium, over the coming 20 years Picasso produced several thousand unique works at the pottery, some of which were used as models for the ceramic editions that Madoura issued from 1948 until the artists death. Picasso collaborated closely with the Ramiés to develop techniques, similar to those used by printmakers, so that the potters could create faithful replicas of his artworks. He monitored the production closely, checking each edition before it was sold, and, in some cases, decorated the ceramics by hand himself, for example the very large Plat Poisson oval plate (est. £25,000 -£35,000). A careful inventory was kept of the numbers in each edition always using Picassos original prototype as the model.
Many of Picassos designs drew inspiration from the Mediterranean region and its traditions: the appearance of fauns, owls, nymphs and bearded men in the collection pay tribute to the ancient myths. Among the highlights in the auction are a number of pots realized in the shape of these birds and animals. The very large Vase Gros Oiseau Vert (est. £25,000 £35,000) for example, is part-bird, part fawn. Standing at 57.5cm (or 22.5in) tall, the whole pot takes on the characteristics of these creatures.
Picassos life-long interests and motifs also found new expression in clay. The collection boasts a splendid group of round plates that draw striking parallels with the artists paintings, depicting the same cast of characters who populate Picassos work at the end of his life. His muses are given fresh and sometimes humorous expression in ceramics. Furthermore, in some cases, for example Visage No. 130 (est. £3,000-£5,000), with its haunting dark eyes and stubbled chin, the artist himself appears on the ceramic object, transformed into a work of art.
The years Picasso spent in the region are understood to have been among the happiest of his life. At Madoura, he met his future wife and famed muse Jacqueline Roque, who was to remain his partner for over 20 years until his death in 1973. During his first year at the pottery, Picasso and his lover Françoise Gilot welcomed a son, Claude, who shared his name with the Patron Saint of Potters.
Further Highlights from the Collection
Trois Poissons sur Fond Gris
1957, Diameter: 412mm; 16.in
This huge round platter, measuring 41.2cm in diameter, is decorated with incised fish which swim around the border and the middle of the plate, taking on the entire shape of the dish. The technique used here to decorate the plate was simple but effective: the thrown platter was dipped in white slip (clay thinned with water) and then the design was scratched through the white to reveal the natural colour of the red clay body beneath.
Visage de Femme 1953,
Height: 380mm; 15in
Tête de femme
Couronnée de Fleurs
1954, Height: 235mm; 9¼in
£ 10,000-15,000 11,800-17,700
1955,, Diameter: 388mm; 15¼in
Alongside the Picasso ceramics, this single-owner auction will include a selection of major prints by Picasso, Joan Miró and Andy Warhol, and will coincide with Sothebys bi-annual auction of Old Master, Modern and Contemporary Prints, also on 19th March.