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Ceramics created by Picasso in French Riviera workshop served up at Bonhams
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Sujet poisson. Stamped and marked 'Madoura Plein Feu/Edition Picasso/Edition Picasso' (underneath) unglazed ceramic pitcher, 12cm (4 3/4in) high. Est: £1,000-1,500. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- A selection of ceramics created by Pablo Picasso will feature in the Impressionist and Modern Art Sale on 23rd October at Bonhams, Knightsbridge.

Designed by the artist in the 1950s, the group includes plates, bowls, vases, ashtrays and pitchers modelled in ceramic and terracotta. Estimates are attractive, ranging from just £500-£700 to £4,000-£6,000. Designs feature Picasso’s characteristic and playful imagery, covering mythological forms, primitive faces, animals and bullfights. Spouts and handles are cleverly repositioned to create facial or anatomical features on the ceramics.

Ruth Graham of Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art Department comments, “Picasso’s ceramics offer an exciting and surprisingly accessible opportunity to own your very own work by perhaps the greatest master of the 20th century. The wide range of ceramics he produced are decorated with his instantly recognisable motifs, and it is fantastic to be able to hold a Picasso in your hands.”

Picasso spent much of the late 1940s at his villa above the town of Vallauris in the south of France and it was then that he first visited the Madoura Pottery workshop. Picasso was so taken with the work that he asked to be introduced to the owners, Susanne and Georges Ramié, who welcomed him into their studio. Picasso was given free use of the studio and materials in exchange for allowing the Ramiés to sell his ceramic editions. Suzanne Ramié shared her vast experience in the craft of ceramics with Picasso and she appears alongside him in numerous photographs during his time in the workshop.

This venture into ceramics can be seen as part of Picasso’s continuing desire to experiment with different media. Spurred on by his initial forays at the workshop, he went on to design over 3,500 fired clay pieces. Upon being passed a freshly created clay vessel, the artist would twist, stretch, punch and pierce the material to his own design. Echoing his practice in painting, Picasso used not only the traditional potter’s tools but anything else that came to hand – the blunt end of a pencil, cardboard or wire-netting were pressed into the still soft clay.

Three types of edition could then be produced from his original design: a replica or faithful copy, an ‘empreinte originale’ made from a press mould, or a ‘poinçon originale’ made from stamping Picasso’s original linocut. Sold at affordable prices, the artist drew pleasure from the thought that anyone could own their own Picasso.

Piccasso and Jaqueline Roque
Picasso (1881-1973) was married twice and fathered four children by three women. He was first married in 1918 to Olga Khokhlova, a ballerina in the famous Ballet Russe. After 9 years and one daughter the couple separated, however, to keep her from inheriting any of his wealth, Picasso stayed patiently married to Olga until her death parted them in 1955. The marriage was littered with numerous affairs, the first of which was with a 17 year old. Age 63, Picasso had another relationship and two children with a woman 40 years his junior. She left him among accusations of abuse but Picasso was already involved with an even younger model.

It was at the Madoura workshop in 1953 that the 72 year old Picasso met 27 year old Jacqueline Roque (1927-1986) who was working at the studio. Picasso, now in his 70s, engaged on a lengthy courtship with Jacqueline. He drew a dove in chalk on her home and brought her a rose each day for half a year before she agreed to date him. The two became lovers and were married in Vallauris in 1961, remaining together for the rest of Picasso’s life. 13 years after Picasso’s death Jacqueline took a pistol and ended her life.

Today, Picasso is considered one of the most influential artists in history.

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