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Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more THE ESTHER B. FERGUSON COLLECTION: A LEGACY OF ART AND PATRONAGEFor the passionate collector, fine art serves as a source of continual insight, inspiring those who seek to surround themselves with artistic expression. So it is for Esther Ferguson, a woman whose life has been tremendously enriched by her assemblage of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper. For Mrs. Ferguson, collecting reflects a simple belief in the power of scholarship and beauty—a chance to make a lasting connection with the creative vision of artists past and present. “Living with art is life for me,” she says. “I need to live surrounded by art.”A native of Hartsville, South Carolina, Esther Baskin Moore forever dreamed of a grander, more adventurous life. “I had the desire to see the outside world and to see the world of art,” she said of her decision to move to New York City as a young woman. “I was scared,” she admitted. “Women didn’t do that sort of thing back then.” The future collector made frequent trips to museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she sat in on educational lectures. “I remember walking out of a [Met] lecture,” she recalled, “and sitting down to cry because I’d learned so much about the world, and because I realized how much more there was to learn.” Moved by the richness and beauty of the art historical canon, Mrs. Ferguson made a point of discovering art at every opportunity. “Attending those lectures,” she said, “kept me going throughout the week.” The collector went on to study political science and the history of art at the University of South Carolina. After returning to New York, she met the prominent businessman James Ferguson, chairman of General Foods; in 1981, the couple were married.When James Ferguson retired in 1989, the couple relocated to Charleston, where Mrs. Ferguson oversaw the careful restoration of their magnificent James Island residence, Secessionville Manor. “I grew up on the lakes in the Midwest,” Mr. Ferguson wrote, “but, for reasons I can’t quite understand, I always yearned to live on a salt marsh near the ocean. And here was a... distinctive, historic home on the most beautiful salt marsh I had ever seen. The combination of circumstances was incendiary.” Built in 1837 in the Greek Revival style, the elegant Secessionville Manor had variously served as a private residence, a hospital for Civil War soldiers, and a home to a small community of freedmen after the war. “When we first had the house,” Mrs. Ferguson told an interviewer, “we were highly conscious of it as something for which we were stewards more than anything else.” The collector restored Secessionville Manor to reflect its roots in Southern history, preserving unique features such as graffiti from the Civil War period. “It has become a prized possession,” Mr. Ferguson noted, “and a magical home.”Much of the ‘magic’ of Secessionville Manor comes from Esther Ferguson’s notable collection of fine art, the culmination of many years spent honing connoisseurship. Her first major acquisition, a portrait by Pablo Picasso, was followed by paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by artists such as Willem de Kooning, Auguste Rodin, Barbara Hepworth, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist, Paul Gauguin, Milton Avery, and Fernand Léger. The collection reflects a boundless enthusiasm for the creative process, and a desire to live each day surrounded by works of history and importance. Indeed, the vibrant mise-en-scène at Secessionville Manor is a special showcase for Mrs. Ferguson’s spirited élan and dedication to learning. Her Picasso portrait hung upon a wall painted a rich red hue, chosen “so that when you come in,” the collector explained, “the art jumps off the walls.” Upon learning of her home’s association with the freedmen community, Mrs. Ferguson acquired a stirring grouping of works depicting sharecroppers by nineteenth-century artist William Aiken Walker.Esther Ferguson’s passion for art, culture, and community extends from the city of Charleston to the wider world. She is the founder of the National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University, and has served on the boards of the Charleston Symphony, the South Carolina Arts Commission, the Young Concert Artists, and the Spoleto Festival USA. The College of Charleston is a particular focus: Mrs. Ferguson has provided financial support and leadership to the Avery Research Center for African-American History and Culture, as well as the renowned International Piano Series. In 1996, the Fergusons donated two of their historic homes in Trujillo, Spain, to create a dynamic new study abroad program for College of Charleston students and faculty.Today, Esther Ferguson maintains her longtime commitment as a board member of Charleston’s Gibbes Museum of Art. In 2010, she lent her private collection to the museum for the exhibition Modern Masters from the Ferguson Collection, allowing visitors the opportunity to experience the wonder and beauty with which she lived at Secessionville Manor. To mark the exhibition’s opening, Mrs. Ferguson invited the artist Christo to speak in Charleston, a lecture so enthusiastically received that the collector began funding an ongoing series of conversations with noteworthy luminaries such as Philippe de Montebello, Leonard Lauder, Jeff Koons, Tod Williams, and Billy Tsien. For Mrs. Ferguson, the Gibbes’s Distinguished Lecture Series is an especially poignant reminder of her own journey in fine art: from lectures at the Met Museum to a life collecting art and sharing it with others. “I measure in large part my life by my love of art,” Mrs. Ferguson says. “It was thanks to my collecting that I met and got to know many of the people who make a great difference in the world. It is through the world of art that I met people who touched me the most.”From her home in Charleston, Esther Ferguson continues the vision of art and philanthropy for which she is celebrated. As her collection passes to a new generation of collectors and connoisseurs, it remains indelibly linked with the legacy of this remarkable woman. “I have lived with the art of some of the great masters,” she says. “I loved and nurtured these objects while they were in my care.”THE ESTHER B. FERGUSON COLLECTION: A LEGACY OF ART AND PATRONAGE
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Femme dans un fauteuil

Details
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Femme dans un fauteuil
signed and dated 'Picasso 19.4.56.' (lower left); numbered 'II' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
39 3/8 x 31 7/8 in. (99.9 x 81 cm.)
Painted in Cannes, 19 April 1956
Provenance
Galerie Louise Leiris (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Paris.
Mr. and Mrs. Gary Cooper, Los Angeles (circa 1957).
Private collection, Los Angeles (by descent from the above).
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 9 October 1985.
Literature
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1966, vol. 17, no. 84 (illustrated, pl. 36).
Exhibited
University of California Los Angeles Art Galleries, "Bonne fete" Monsieur Picasso From Southern California Collectors, October-November 1961, no. 43 (illustrated; with incorrect dimensions).
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Jessica Fertig

Lot Essay

Picasso required no more than a few adeptly brushed strokes of black paint to signify the identity of the pensive, perhaps dreaming young woman seated here. The single mysterious eye, the assertive, angled brow, contoured within a delicate, feline profile, belong to the artist’s final consort and muse, Jacqueline Roque. The artist was in his 74th year when he painted this portrait on 19 April 1956; she was 29. The sensitive, loving refinement Picasso devoted to Jacqueline’s features contrasts with the boldly applied swaths of black and blue pigment that comprise her seated figure. The composition is a miracle of poised expression stemming from a concisely descriptive economy of means. Picasso had embarked on his late, great period, which his biographer John Richardson succinctly defined and characterized as “l’époque Jacqueline.”
“It is Jacqueline's image that permeates Picasso's work from 1954 until his death, twice as long as any of her predecessors,” Richardson wrote. “It is her body that we are able to explore more exhaustively and more intimately than any other body in the history of art. It is her solicitude and patience that sustained the artist in the face of declining health and death and enabled him to be more productive than ever before and to go on working into his ninety-second year. And lastly it is her vulnerability that gives a new intensity to the combination of cruelty and tenderness that endows Picasso's paintings of women with their pathos and their strength” (Late Picasso, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 47).
Jacqueline and Picasso first met during the summer of 1952 at the Madoura pottery works in Vallauris, where the artist had been creating ceramic wares since 1946. Divorced in 1950 from her husband André Hutin, an engineer, Jacqueline moved to the Riviera and was working as a salesperson in the Madoura studio store. At the end of September 1953, Françoise Gilot, Picasso’s paramour since the end of the war, decided to leave the artist, and took their children Claude and Paloma to live in Paris. For the next nine months Picasso endured the privation, for the first time in decades, of living without a female presence in his home. He began to court Jacqueline; his first paintings of her are dated 2-3 June 1954 (Zervos, vol. 16, nos. 324-325). They continued to see each other in Vallauris that summer, and together returned to Paris in September to live in Picasso’s pre-war studio on the rue des Grands-Augustins.
In December 1954 Picasso commenced work on his variations, which would finally number fifteen in all, on Delacroix’s two versions of Les femmes dAlger. The series was ostensibly his tribute to the Delacroix-inspired odalisques of Matisse, to honor the memory of his longtime rival, but also an admired friend, who died the month before. The Femmes dAlger paintings are moreover a resplendent garland of affection for Jacqueline, Picasso’s declaration that she had established her place in his life and art. A homage to Delacroix had been on Picasso’s mind for more than decade, and one may wonder if when Picasso and Jacqueline first met, he became instantly intrigued at Jacqueline's resemblance to the odalisque crouching at lower right in the Louvre version of Delacroix’s harem scene, whose face is seen in left profile. Left side or right, Picasso would most often depict Jacqueline in profile or three-quarter view.
“Françoise had not been the Delacroix type,” Richardson has pointed out. “Jacqueline, on the contrary, epitomized it... And then, there is the African connection: Jacqueline had lived for many years as the wife of a colonial official [Hutin] in Upper Volta. As Picasso remarked, ‘Ouagadougou may not be Algiers, nonetheless Jacqueline has an African provenance’” (ibid., p. 18). During his lifetime Picasso had come no closer to North Africa than when as a youth he lived among the relics of the old Moorish civilization in Andalucía. In Jacqueline, Africa had come to him. Paris-born, she nonetheless possessed a classic Mediterranean appearance—jet-black hair, dark eyes and a long, narrow nose. She fully looked the part of Delacroix's Algerian odalisque.
Following the completion in Paris of the Femmes dAlger canvases, Picasso decided to return to the Midi, this time for good. In Vallauris, he had been staying the villa La Gauloise, which he had purchased in Françoise’s name. Besides having become haunted with memories of their breakup, the house was too small for the artist’s burgeoning production, and lacked the storage space necessary for the many paintings he wanted to move from the Grands-Augustins studio. In the summer of 1955, Picasso purchased La Californie, an ornate, late nineteenth-century villa overlooking the Mediterranean coast at Cannes. Its location had the advantage of being close to Picasso's potters, and was sufficiently secluded for privacy. The building’s numerous Art Nouveau features were redolent of the Orientalism to which he had alluded in the Delacroix variations. “I had thought so much about the Femmes d'Alger that I found La Californie,” Picasso told Pierre Daix. “That's how it is with painting. And Delacroix had already met Jacqueline” (quoted in P. Daix, Picasso: Life and Art, New York, 1993, p. 329).
Picasso and Jacqueline moved into La Californie during the early fall of 1955; the artist quickly set up his studio in the spacious high-ceilinged room on the second floor above the entrance. He proceeded to claim this new space as his own by painting it. Between 23 and 31 October 1955, Picasso completed a series of eleven atelier canvases, capping this effort with an encyclopedic studio interior on 12 November (Zervos, vol. 16, nos. 486-497). “For Picasso, his studio is a self-portrait in itself,” Marie-Laure Bernadac has written. “Sensitive to its ritual, its secret poetry, he marks with his presence the environment and the objects in it, and makes this territory into his own ‘second skin’” (exh. cat., op. cit., 1988, p. 58).
A second series on the La Californie studio theme followed during 30 March-6 April 1956, part way into which Picasso introduced the figure of his lover and ever-present model Jacqueline, seated in a rocking-chair (Zervos, vol. 17, nos. 56-67). She is a regular feature in the third sequence that Picasso began on 29 April and carried forward during May and into mid-June (Zervos, vol. 17, nos. 101-107 and 110-120). The studio represents the private, inner sanctum of the artist. With the incorporation of Jacqueline, his muse joins him; the paintings embody and manifest the symbiosis of love and art, the abundant totality of Picasso’s new life within the swirling Art Nouveau arabesques of La Californie.
Picasso painted the present Femme dans un fauteuil mid-way between the second and third atelier sequences, focusing exclusively on the presence of Jacqueline alone, whom he placed within a non-descript space divested of any reference to the accoutrements he typically included in the studio interiors. He had already painted her earlier that day half-nude, wearing only a pair of blue culottes (Zervos, vol. 17, no. 85). Bathed in partly concealing shadows, Jacqueline appears here to be still only partly clothed, her breasts bared.
The Galerie Louise Leiris label on the painting’s stretcher titles the subject as sitting “dans un rocking-chair.” The distinctive design of Picasso’s favorite Thonet bentwood rocker, seen in numerous atelier compositions, and featured in three frontal views of Jacqueline seated that Picasso painted in March 1956 (Zervos, vol. 17, nos. 48-49 and 55), is here apparent only insofar as Jacqueline’s upper body and arms have merged with the gracefully curved forms of the chair. "Jacqueline sometimes mirrored Picasso sitting in his favorite turn-of-the-century rocker. He had two,” David Douglas Duncan recalled. “They followed him whenever he changed homes, his always faithful refuge in which to curl up, isolated—just to think. One of his first portraits of Jacqueline was drawn in charcoal when she pulled her feet up into the companion chair [Zervos, vol. 16, no. 326]" (Picasso and Jacqueline, New York, 1988, p. 123). In the present Femme dans un fauteuil, Jacqueline and her chair are one, just as Picasso and his chair were one, and in La Californie they are happily altogether. May one read in the joined blue, shadow-like forms that comprise Jacqueline’s figure a large letter “P”, the artist’s mark upon her, as evidence of an evolving, most intimately shared identity. Still legally espoused to Olga Khokhlova, Picasso was not then free to remarry. It was not until 1961 that Jacqueline became the second Madame Picasso.
"Jacqueline has the gift of becoming painting to an unimaginable degree,” Hélène Parmelin, a close friend of Picasso during the late years, observed. “She has within her that wonderful power on which the painter feeds. She flows. She is made for it and gives of herself and devotes herself and dies in harness though living all the while and never posing. She harbors that multiplicity of herself... She unfurls ad infinitum. She invades everything. She becomes all characters. She takes the place of all models of all the artists on all the canvases. All the portraits resemble her, even though they may not resemble each other. All the heads are hers and there are a thousand different ones" (Picasso: Intimate Secrets of a Studio at Notre Dame de Vie, New York, 1966, pp. 14-15).
The first private owner of Picasso’s Femme dans un fauteuil was the legendary screen star Gary Cooper. As a young man Cooper studied art before turning to acting. His wife Veronica guided the couple’s tastes to Impressionist and Modern art; they owned paintings by Gauguin, Renoir, Bonnard, Vuillard, as well as the Americans George Bellows and Georgia O’Keeffe. Having completed the filming of Billy Wilder’s Love in the Afternoon with Audrey Hepburn in Paris during the spring of 1956, Cooper and his daughter Maria vacationed on the Riviera, where the photographer David Douglas Duncan introduced them to Picasso and Jacqueline. Cooper brought them as gifts a Stetson hat, a Colt six-shooter, and an Indian headdress, seen in photographs of Picasso taken by Duncan and André Villers. Cooper subsequently acquired Femme dans un fauteuil, painted earlier that year, from Picasso’s Paris dealer Daneil-Henry Kahnweiler.

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