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Rare complete suite of La suite des Saltimbanques by Picasso leads Bonhams sale
La suite des Saltimbanques by Pablo Picasso. Estimate: £170,000-250,000. Photo: Bonhams.


LONDON.- A rare complete series of Picasso’s first printed works La suite des Saltimbanques leads Bonhams Prints and Multiples sale in London on Thursday 13 June with estimate of £170,000-250,000.

Towards the end of what is known as his Rose period (1904-06), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) produced a body of work that focused on clowns, harlequins and carnival performers. He was fascinated by itinerant acrobats or saltimbanques, admiring their free spirit and independence, and he explored this theme in several key works. Alongside paintings such as the 1905 masterpiece La Famille des Saltimbanques, Picasso – then in his early 20s and living in bohemian Montmartre at the Bateau-Lavoir – worked on a series of 15 etchings and drypoints that showed gypsies and acrobats behind the scenes, caught in private moments. Some are shown rehearsing; others eating with their families, or taking a bath.

Bonhams Director of Prints and Multiples Lucia Tro Santafe said, "This suite, so rarely found complete, includes the most important work within Picasso’s graphic oeuvre Le Repas Frugal. A melancholic depiction of bohemian life which clearly identifies with the artist’s life at this point in his career: moving from place to place, living a ‘frugal’ life. This series of prints had no obvious precedent, and proved not only Picasso’s ability as a draftsman and printmaker, but as a gifted young artist with a unique vision."

Other highlights include:

• Nude Reading by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997); relief print in colours,1994. Nude Reading is part of The Nudes Series, one of three emblematic series Lichtenstein worked on towards the end of his life. Drawing on comic book images from the early 1960s – when he first ventured into the subject – his return to the nude was also said to have been inspired by Pablo Picasso's later work that focused on the female nude. Estimate: £60,000-80,000.

• Shoes by Andy Warhol (1928-1987); screenprint in colours with diamond dust, 1980. In his early career, Warhol worked in advertising and his first commission was to draw shoes for Glamour magazine in the late 1940s. Later in life he said, "I'm doing shoes because I'm going back to my roots. In fact, I think maybe I should do nothing but shoes from now on." Estimate: £50,000-70,000.

• Speedway by Sybil Andrews (1898-1992); linocut printed colours, 1934. In one of her most celebrated images, Andrews presents man and motorcycle as a single unit in three repeating forms moving in diagonal format across the page. Speedway was originally conceived as a poster for the London Passenger Transport Board, but it was never produced. Estimate: £50,000-70,000.





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