PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
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PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
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PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)

Nature morte, compotier avec fruits, pot avec fleurs

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Nature morte, compotier avec fruits, pot avec fleurs
dated '10.6.39.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
13 x 16 ¼ in. (33 x 41.3 cm.)
Painted on 10 June 1939
Marie-Thérèse Walter, Paris.
Galerie Jan Krugier, Geneva (acquired from the above, 1973).
Galerie Beyeler, Basel (acquired from the above, February 1974).
Private collection, Beverly Hills (acquired from the above, May 1985); sale, Christie's, New York, 10 May 1994, lot 62.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Paris, 1958, vol. 9, no. 315 (illustrated, pl. 150).
Geneva, Galerie Jan Krugier, Une Collection Picasso: Oeuvres de 1937 à 1946, December 1973, no. 38 (illustrated in color).
Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Picasso: A Centennial Selection, April-July 1981, p. 117, no. 33 (illustrated in color, p. 56).

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Lot Essay

Alongside the iconic series of majestic, searingly colored, powerful portraits of Dora Maar and Marie-Thérèse Walter that Pablo Picasso painted in 1939, he also made several uncomplicated still-life's that feature, as in Nature morte, compotier avec fruits, pot avec fleurs, a flower-filled jug accompanied by a bowl of fruit. This was a time of feverish creation in Picasso’s life. Amidst the ever-worsening political crises that plagued Europe—Picasso’s native Spain was consumed by the Civil War, meanwhile France, his adopted home, was also sliding ever closer to war—he worked at an astonishing, near confounding pace, constantly switching between styles, subjects and his two muses of the time, Maar and Walter. Together these paintings, infused with rich color and dominated by curving, sensuous lines, show no sign of the angst of the times. Instead they embody a blissful sense of escapism, an embrace of life in its simplest, everyday form.
At the time that he painted the present work, Picasso was living between his studio in Paris and Le Tremblay-sur-Mauldre, near Versailles. In the autumn of 1936 Picasso had been forced to give up his beloved château at Boisgeloup as part of the separation agreement he had come to with his wife Olga. In need of another retreat away from the cosmopolitan world of Paris and heeding to Walter’s wish to live in the countryside, the art dealer Amboise Vollard offered Picasso the use of an old farmhouse. With Walter and their young daughter Maya settled there, Picasso divided his time between Paris, where he spent the week with Dora Maar, and Le Tremblay, where he spent the weekend ensconced in family life, living a contented domestic idyll. Characterized by an atmosphere of tranquil, rural charm, his still-lifes, including the present Nature morte, encapsulate Picasso’s desire to forget the world around him and instead indulge in the simple, unchanging pleasures of life.
For Picasso, painting, and particularly the genre of still life, had always been deeply autobiographical. “I paint the way some people write their autobiography,” he once declared. “The paintings, finished or not, are the pages of my journal, and as such they are valid” (quoted in F. Gilot and C. Lake, Life with Picasso, New York, 1964, p. 123). In the early 1930s, at the peak of his passionate but secret affair with Marie-Thérèse, Picasso had painted vibrant still lifes that are steeped in eroticism. Ripe fruit and exaggeratedly anthropomorphized objects depicted with bold color and generous brushstrokes served as thinly veiled stand-ins for the sensual undulating curves and youthful vitality of his young muse.
In Nature morte, compotier avec fruits, pot avec fleurs, the same curvilinear language can be seen in the undulating shape of the stemmed fruit bowl and volumetric form of the painted jug suggesting the female form. “Her forms were handsomely sculptural, with a fullness of volume and a purity of line that gave her body and her face an extraordinary perfection,” Françoise Gilot described. “To the extent that nature offers ideas or stimuli to an artist, there are some forms that are closer than others to any artist's own aesthetic and thus serve as a springboard for his imagination. Marie-Thérèse brought a great deal to Pablo in the sense that her physical form demanded recognition. She was a magnificent model” (ibid., pp. 241-242). It is fitting that the first owner of the present painting was Marie-Thérèse.

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