PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
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PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, NEW JERSEY
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)

Compotier et verres

PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Compotier et verres
signed 'Picasso' (lower right) and dated '16 June 43' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
18 1/4 x 24 in. (46.5 x 61 cm).
Painted on 16 June 1943
Galerie Simon [Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler], Paris.
Michael & Vivian Newbury, Chicago, by 1968; sale, Sotheby's, New York, 11 November 1987, lot 64.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Oeuvres de 1943 à 1944, vol. 13, Paris, 1962, no. 54 (illustrated pl. 27).
Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, Picasso in Chicago: Paintings, Drawings and Prints from Chicago Collections, February - March 1968, no. 41, p. 114 (illustrated p. 40; titled ‘Still Life with a Basket of Cherries’).
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. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice. Christie’s has a direct financial interest in this lot. Christie’s has guaranteed to the seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee.

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Michelle McMullan
Michelle McMullan Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Painted on 16 June 1943, during the darkest days of the Second World War, Pablo Picasso's Compotier et verres is a powerful testament to life in Occupied Paris. Born in Spain, Picasso had been living in France since 1904, yet despite trying, he never acquired French citizenship. As such, his position in Paris became dangerous in the wake of the German invasion in 1940. Following the Franco-German Armistice of June 22, 1940, friends of Picasso offered to help him escape to North America, but he refused to leave his beloved Paris, noting that ‘if everyone of any worth [ran] away, what will remain of France’ (P. O’Brian, Pablo Ruiz Picasso: A Biography, New York, 1976, p. 349).
Under the Nazi regime, Picasso was declared a degenerate artist and prohibited from exhibiting his work. Isolated in his studio at 7 Rue des Grands-Augustins and enduring the many deprivations of life under enemy rule, Picasso, with characteristic zeal, threw himself wholeheartedly into his art. Turning to his immediate surroundings, he made the cups, pots, and quotidian trappings of his rooms his subject matter. Although resources were limited, Picasso nevertheless imbued these canvases with a profound pathos; the paintings not only serves as a record of life in the occupied city but also is an allegory of human suffering. ‘It was,’ he later reflected, ‘not a time for the creative man to fail, to shrink, to stop working. There was nothing else to do but work seriously and devotedly, struggle for food, see friends quietly, and look forward to freedom’ (P. Picasso, quoted in M. McCully, ed., A Picasso Anthology: Documents, Criticism, Reminiscences, Princeton, 1981, p. 224).
Indeed, while the still life as a genre dominated Picasso’s wartime output, it was one that the artist had begun interrogating decades prior to the Second World War. John Richardson, the artist’s biographer, has argued that it was the subject Picasso ‘would eventually explore more exhaustively and develop more imaginatively than any other artist in history’ (J. Richardson quoted in J. Sutherland Boggs, Picasso & Things, exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art, 1992, p. 13). Certainly, the still life was the site that, from the beginning, saw some of Picasso’s most inventive and unrestrained experimentation; it was here that his Cubist language took flight, and the genre continued to offer him a means to deconstruct and reconceive the notion of representation—both aesthetically and personally.
Already by the 1930s, Picasso was viewing the still life through an autobiographical lens, filling his canvases with voluptuous, sensual forms and symbols in homage to his muse, Marie-Thérèse Walter. It is no surprise, as such, that the genre became the means through which he refracted his experiences. Although his wartime paintings may look apolitical, during the Occupation, Picasso avoided explicitly partisan imagery to ensure his safety and wellbeing. Even still, these canvases unambiguously chart the war and its emotional consequences for the artist: In the angular, jutting forms of Compotier et verres reside the fears and sense of confinement that suffused life at 7 Rue des Grands-Augustins, and indeed, all of Paris.
Nevertheless, despite the wartime hardships and atmosphere of anguish, 1943, for Picasso, was a time of new love and great change. Three years earlier, in 1940, he had left the home he had shared with his wife Olga on Rue de la Boétie to move into his studio, where he would remain for the duration of the war; on 5 January 1943, the French high court finalized Picasso and Olga’s separation. In May of that year, Picasso met Françoise Gilot at Le Catalan, a restaurant down the street from 7 Rue des Grands-Augustins. Describing her first encounter with the artist, Gilot explained that she had been dining with her school friend Geneviève Aliquot and the actor Alain Cuny when she noticed Picasso glancing their way: ‘Finally, he got up and came over to our table. He brought with him a bowl of cherries and offered some to all of us, in his strong Spanish accent, calling them cerisses, with a soft, double-s sound’ (F. Gilot and C. Lake, Life with Picasso, New York, 1964, p. 14).
The meeting led to an invitation to his studio for the two young women, and they took him up on the offer the following Monday. Gilot was disappointed: There were few paintings anywhere to be seen. Returning some days later, she was pleased to find an abundance of canvases on display, which he had ‘piled…up almost like scaffolding’: ‘There was a painting on the easel,’ she recalled. ‘He stuck another on top of that; one on each side; piled others on top of those… That morning there were cocks; a buffet of Le Catalan with cherries against a background of brown, and white; small still lifes, some with lemon and many with glasses, a cup, and a coffeepot, or with fruit against a checked tablecloth’ (F. Gilot & C. Lake, Life with Picasso, New York, 1964, p. 20). Just weeks after their meeting would Picasso complete Compotier et verres, whose vivacious yellow and vivid streaks of red speak to his new optimism; within the year, Gilot and Picasso would embark upon a romantic partnership that lasted almost a decade and produced two children.

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