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Sotheby's London to sell an exceptional selection of ceramics by Pablo Picasso
The selection includes plates, vases, jugs, bowls and tiles designed by Picasso, depicting a range of classical and mythical forms alongside portraits of animals and people. The individual pieces range in estimate from £800 to £15,000. Pictured: Lots 169, 170, 171. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Sotheby’s is to offer an exceptional selection of ceramics by Pablo Picasso in its London sale of Prints & Multiples on 17 September 2013. This follows Sotheby’s sell-out auction in March 2013 of Important Ceramics by Pablo Picasso From A Private Collection, in which 100% of the lots sold as bidders competed fiercely for the prized works. The forthcoming auction of a comprehensive group of over 100 Picasso ceramics represents an opportunity for collectors to acquire their own work of art by one of the twentieth century’s most famous artists. The selection includes plates, vases, jugs, bowls and tiles designed by Picasso, depicting a range of classical and mythical forms alongside portraits of animals and people. The individual pieces range in estimate from £800 to £15,000.

Since the Royal Academy’s flagship exhibition of Picasso’s ceramics in 1998 there has been a renewed appreciation for the artist’s experimentations with this art form. An exhibition currently on view in Aubagne in France – Picasso, Ceramicist, and the Mediterannean - is the biggest ever dedicated to Picasso’s ceramics.

Beginning with his first trip to Vallauris in the summer of 1946, Picasso remained enchanted by the freedom and expressive nature of the ceramic medium throughout the last 25 years of his life. Working with the Ramié family during these years, Picasso found great satisfaction in working with clay – the alchemy of working with slips and glazes, the effects of texture and colour, and the daily life of the artisan attracted him greatly. These elements, combined with the surrounds of the Côte d’Azur, created a font of inspiration for Picasso, and his ceramics feature many recurring motifs, such as the fish, goats and famous corridas of the area. Picasso’s freedom of thought and creative powers are clearly evident in these works, and the sense of playfulness for which he was so renowned.

Featured in the sale, amongst other pieces, are a selection of plates and dishes from the famous Service visage noir (lots 169, 170 & 171, estimated respectively at £2,000-3,000, £3,000-4,000 and £2,000-3,000) which was created by Picasso in 1948, and as such is one of the earliest pieces he ever designed. A complete set was gifted by the town of Vallauris to Hollywood legend Rita Hayworth as a wedding present on the day of her marriage to the Aly Khan. The joyful pieces – decorated with the heads of fauns – embody the spirit of fun that is often seen in Picasso's post-war work, when he had just moved down to the South of France and was filled with the hope that the horrors of the previous half-century were finally behind his beloved Europe.

Joueur de diaule, 1947 (lot 134), is another very early work from the first years of Picasso's experimentation with clay (est £4,000-6,000). It is number 12 of 200 pieces made by the Madoura craftsmen under Picasso's guidance, making it both a rare and early example. The platter depicts the delighted face of a faun playing the double flute, an instantly recognisable classical image to which Picasso was repeatedly drawn. For Picasso, the Côte d'Azur was a bucolic paradise, inhabited by fauns, nymphs, mythical goats and, of course, the Minotaur.

The years Picasso spent in the region are understood to have been amongst 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 (illustrated left, lot 181, Profil de Jacqueline, 1956, est. £4,000-6,000). 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.

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