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Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Bol vert et tomates

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Bol vert et tomates
tempera on panel
8 1/8 x 10 5/8in. (20.6 x 26.9cm.)
Painted in 1908
The artist's collection, Mougins, and thence by descent to Marina Picasso, Paris, (inv. 12096), (granddaughter of the artist)
Galerie Jan Krugier, Geneva
Acquired directly from the above by the father of the present owners
D. Douglas Duncan, Picasso's Picassos, London 1961 (illustrated p. 57).
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Supplment aux annes 1907-1909, vol. 26, Paris 1973, no. 362 (illustrated p. 120).
P. Daix & J. Rosselet, Picasso, The Cubist Years 1907-1916, A catalogue raisonn of the paintings and related works, London 1979, no. 175 (illustrated p. 223).
C. P. Warncke, Pablo Picasso 1881-1973, Cologne 1997, p. 176 (illustrated in colour).
Miami, Center for the Fine Arts, Picasso at work at home, Selection from the Marina Picasso collection, November 1985- March 1986, no. 15 (illustrated in colour).

Lot Essay

Following the heroic creative struggle that led to Les desmoiselles d'Avignon (1907) and Les trois femmes (1908), Picasso shifted his attention away from the figure, and concentrated primarily on still-life painting instead. For a period of about twelve months beginning in the spring of 1908, the still-life became Picasso's major focus of experimentation and creativity. Whereas previously this genre had held little fascination for the artist, it was to be central to his output for the rest of his career. Indeed, as John Richardson has said, Picasso "addressed himself seriously to still-life: a genre he would eventually explore more exhaustively and develop more imaginatively than any other artist in history." (John Richardson, A Life of Picasso, vol. I, New York 1991, p. 441). Picasso's first still-lifes are works of astonishing beauty and exceptional importance, and they were instrumental in Picasso's discovery and foundation of Cubism.

The example of Czanne was a major stimulus in Picasso's investigation of the still-life at this time. Czanne had died in 1906 and the following year there were two epochal exhibitions of the painter's work: in June a show at the Bernheim-Jeune Galleries of the artist's watercolours, and in October at the Salon d'Automne, which featured fifty-six of his oil paintings. Little of Czanne's work had been exhibited before, and these shows were a revelation for critics and artists; Picasso, Braque, Matisse and others studied Czanne's works with rapt fascination.

In response, "Picasso pitted himself against Czanne in a series of deceptively simple-looking paintings of utilitarian objects - bowls, jars, saucers, jugs - which prove on closer inspection to be anything but functional... . He teases the beholder's eye [...] with ambivalences: painting a concavity as if it were convex, and vice versa. Whether he is mocking Czanne's geometrical dictum or indulging in anthropomorphic puns, Picasso dramatizes and individualizes these mundane things so forcefully - as forcefully as Van Gogh in his Yellow Chair - that their very tension seems to reflect the tensions of their creator's existence." (John Richardson, A Life of Picasso, vol. II, New York 1996, p. 45). Picasso later said, "Le fils de Cezanne - c'est moi" (op. cit, p. 47).

In the present work, as in other of Picasso's proto-Cubist still-lifes, the influence of Czanne is especially evident in the palette and the brushwork. The deeply saturated and dark-valued pigments give the work a rich tonality and strong plasticity. The brushwork is active and dynamic. Picasso had been particularly impressed by the creative force of Czanne's brushwork. Picasso said, "As soon as he [Cezanne] begins to make the first stroke, the picture is already there" (ibid, p. 50).

Almost all of Picasso's proto-Cubist still-lifes are now in museums; Bol vert et tomates is one of the last in private hands.


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