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Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more THE EYE OF THE ARCHITECT: PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTIONThe disciplines of architecture and painting have been intimately intertwined throughout history, two independent strands of creative thought that have nevertheless remained bound to one another by a common interest in how people experience the world around them. When considered in conjunction with one another, they can achieve a synergistic relationship, one in which the experience and appreciation of both the painting and the space they occupy are enhanced by their connection. The following selection of works from the collection of an esteemed European architect has been assembled with this concern in mind, each work having been chosen for its ability to complement and enrich the spaces they inhabit. Born from a keen sense of social responsibility, this architect’s forward-thinking vision was rooted in the grand tradition of socially engaged housing, creating unique buildings that place the welfare of residents above the flaunting of architectural form. Allowing ample space for vegetation to grow over their balconies and transform apartment blocks into living, vertical gardens, the resulting homes are places of beauty and contentment, with proximity to water and greenery fulfilling basic human needs as well as affording countless environmental benefits. In these buildings, the architect offered hope for a way of urban living that did not suffocate the natural world, but rather embraces an organic conception of growth, renewal and sustainability. The architect’s inventiveness, imagination and eye for detail find clear parallels in the art collection he formed over the course of his collecting life, acquiring pieces by some of the most celebrated masters of the twentieth-century avant-garde, from Pablo Picasso to Francis Bacon, Giorgio de Chirico to Joan Miró, and Fernand Léger to Giorgio Morandi. One of the most striking features of this varied group is the way in which the collector has managed to create a sense of unity amongst the works, choosing pieces of a similarly intimate scale and thematic concern to generate a dynamic dialogue between each of the pieces when considered together. Focusing primarily on figurative compositions, this tightly curated group of works not only reveals the collector’s discerning eye and architectural mind, but also his passion for artists who continuously sought to push the boundaries of tradition in their art. Indeed, many of the works in the collection date from pivotal periods of transition in each artists’ career, as they began to explore new, ground breaking techniques, subject matter or styles in their compositions. There is also a strong emphasis on form and construction in each of the compositions, and a fascination with the architecturally-minded approach to structure that feeds these artists' aesthetic practices. There is a clear focus on Cubism and its later developments, for example, from the carefully composed still-lifes of Picasso, Juan Gris and Georges Braque, to the visionary machine aesthetic of Léger which expanded upon the traditions of the Cubist language and adapted them to his own unique style following the First World War. The automatic, fluid language of Miró’s brand of Surrealism, meanwhile, is contrasted with the metaphysical contemplations of De Chirico’s dreamlike scenarios and cityscapes, which share the pensive atmosphere of Morandi’s highly subtle, architectural, still lifes. A rare example of Picasso’s Surrealist-influenced series of figures, meanwhile, finds echoes in Bacon’s disintegration of the human form, as the features of his model, Henriette Moraes, dissolve into an array of rich, expressive strokes of paint. Offering an intriguing insight into some of the most dynamic and exciting periods of the European artistic avant-garde, these works stand as a testament to the collector’s keen connoisseurial eye and deep appreciation for the connection between modern art and architecture.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Nature morte devant une fenêtre

Details
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Nature morte devant une fenêtre
gouache, watercolour and pencil on buff paper
19 3/8 x 12 1/4 in. (49.2 x 31 cm.)
Executed in Saint-Raphaël in 1919
Provenance
Comte Etienne de Beaumont, Paris, and thence by descent.
Galerie Jan Krugier, Geneva (no. 1831), by 1976.
Private collection, Europe, by whom acquired from the above in 1977.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1994.
Literature
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, vol. 3, Oeuvres de 1917 à 1919, Paris, 1949, no. 402, n.p. (illustrated pl. 134).
J. Palau i Fabre, Picasso, from the Ballets to the Drama (1917-1926), Cologne, 1999, p. 510.
Special Notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

Brought to you by

Keith Gill
Keith Gill Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

‘Art should not be a trompe-l’oeil but a trompe-l’esprit
(Picasso, quoted in R. Desnos, Écrits sur les peintres, Paris, 1984)

Executed in Saint-Raphaël in the summer of 1919, Pablo Picasso’s Nature morte devant une fen?tre is one of the first in a series of what have become known as guéridon still-lifes that saw the artist blend Synthetic Cubism with the prevailing aesthetics of the ‘return to order’. As the trauma of the First World War reverberated across France and Europe, artists and writers alike called for a new stability, harmony and collectivism in art. Idiosyncrasy and individualism were shunned, replaced by the desire for unity, reconstruction and perhaps most importantly, a veneration of tradition and the classical. Within this atavistic avant-garde, Picasso was able to effortlessly alternate between Cubism and Classicism, modernity and tradition, executing his Ingres-inspired line drawings and painting statuesque, naturalistically depicted figures, while at the same time, creating fragmented geometric cubist compositions. Nature morte devant une fen?tre is a work that combines these two seemingly disparate aesthetics, portraying the artist’s indomitable creative power and reflecting his already unsurmountable role as the leader of the post-war avant-garde of Paris.

Picasso had spent much of the spring of 1919 in London, where he was working with Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes on the production of Le Tricorne. After several months in the British capital, Picasso returned to Paris eager to immerse himself in avant-garde developments there. In the middle of August he travelled with his new wife, the Russian ballet dancer, Olga Khokhlova, to Saint-Raphaël, a small town popular with British holiday makers situated on the French Riviera between Cannes and Saint Tropez. Here the newly married couple stayed in the elegant Hôtel Continental et des Bains. Their room and balcony looked out over the sparkling Mediterranean, and it was this setting that inspired Picasso to begin a series of elegant domestic still-lifes in pencil, gouache and watercolour that featured a table placed in front of the open hotel window.

As with others in the rest of this series, Nature morte devant une fen?tre features an ornate, biomorphically-shaped guéridon table upon which a collection of quintessentially cubist still-life objects are placed – most legible here a guitar and a bowl of fruit. Behind this, the azure waters of the sea and cloudless powder blue sky stretch into the distance, the ornate wrought iron bars of the balcony balustrade serving as the boundary between the room and the expansive panorama beyond. The hermeticism that defined the dense, often inscrutable compositions of pre-war Cubism has been expunged; quite literally, the window has been thrown open and the outside world let in.

In Nature morte devant une fen?tre, the table and its contents are rendered with geometric interlocking planes of colour stacked atop each other. Picasso has used the ground of the work itself to create the form of the guitar and the table surface, creating an effect reminiscent of his earlier cubist papier-collés, which integrated found papers into the fragmented still-life compositions. The empathic flatness of this seemingly cubist assemblage is at odds with the pictorial depth that the illusionistic background of the scene implies. In this way, the fractured and distorted style of Cubism is brought next to a representational idiom, creating a strong visual contrast between these two modes of pictorial creation. In combining these disparate artistic languages, Picasso brings modernity and tradition side by side; combining these aesthetics together to create this image. A playful visual embodiment of the opposing facets of the post-war avant-garde, this painting shows Picasso’s protean ability to create and to invent. It has also been suggested that these guéridon still-lifes serve as a wry take on this divided avant-garde; as Kenneth E. Silver has written, ‘Surely there is a bit of irony here, in the amusing juxtaposition of modernist still-life with the super-realism of the setting’ (K.E. Silver, Esprit des Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1914-1925, London, 1989, p. 352).

Nature morte devant une fen?tre was previously owned by the French aristocrat and patron of modern art and music, Count Étienne de Beaumont. A leading figure of les années folles in Paris, he was notorious for the extravagant parties and masked balls that he threw, as well as for his patronage of modern artists, dancers and musicians alike. Picasso was introduced to Beaumont by Jean Cocteau, at one of his famed parties, and he remained close to the artist and his wife until the Second World War.

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