This work is sold with a photo-certificate from Maya Widmayer Picasso, and a photo-certificate from Claude Ruiz Picasso.
Painted on 6 March 1937, Nature morte à la cruche is filled with both sensuality in its lush curves and generous brushstrokes, and with a certain playfulness, providing us with an insight into the mind of Picasso during this period. Perhaps the most playful of elements in this work is not the deliberately looping brushwork, but instead the picture-within-a-picture, which appears like a swirling drawing with hatching, yet perfectly conveys the impression of another still life with fruit within this painting. Picasso, then, is taking the opportunity to introduce a witty meditation on art and representation within the arena of his own still life.
Picasso explained that, 'I paint the same way some people write their autobiography' (Picasso, quoted in J. Richardson, 'L'Epoque Jacqueline,' pp. 17-48, Late Picasso: Paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints 1953-1972, exh.cat., London & Paris, 1988, p. 28). During the late 1930s, Picasso had a great deal on his mind, be it the civil war that was tearing apart his beloved Spain, a conflict that would lead to his great Guernica, or the contemporary relationships with both Dora Maar and Marie-Thérèse Walter. During the period in which Nature morte à la cruche was painted, Picasso was almost commuting between Paris, where Dora was living, and Le Tremblay-sur-Mauldre, a leafy suburb where he had installed Marie-Thérèse and their daughter, Maya, who had been born in 1935 were staying. With its sensual paintwork, Nature morte à la cruche appears to have been painted in those bucolic surroundings, rather than with Dora, who was a somewhat darker muse more, suited to his paintings of conflict. Indeed, Nature morte à la cruche was painted on the same day as several portraits of Marie-Thérèse, including Femme assise aux bras croisés, now in the Musée Picasso, Paris.
During this period, Picasso's Paris studio was still at 23, rue de la Boétie; his neighbour at number 25 was the famous French publisher Albert Skira, whose name was so associated with artists and art books for decades. At the time that this picture was painted, Skira was publishing the celebrated Surrealist review Minotaure, for which Picasso would create such an iconic cover. Skira recalled that, when Picasso was in his studio and wanted to communicate with his friend, he would blow into a toy trumpet. It is a tribute to the friendship and spirit of collaboration between them that Nature morte à la cruche was a gift from the artist to Skira.