Lot Content

COVID-19 Important notice Read More
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

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.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Grand vase aux femmes voilées (AR 116)

Details
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Grand vase aux femmes voilées (AR 116) stamped, marked and numbered 'MADOURA PLEIN FEU EMPREINTE ORIGINALE DE PICASSO 2' (inside the rim) terracotta vase painted with white, red and black engobe Height: 26 in. (66 cm.) Conceived in 1950 and executed by 1954 in a numbered edition of 25
Provenance
Private collection, USA, by whom acquired in Vallauris in April 1954.
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 2 November 2001, lot 434.
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 27 April 2017, lot 4.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature
G. Bloch, Pablo Picasso, catalogue de l’oeuvre gravé céramique, 1951-1971, vol. III, Bern, 1972, no. 21 (another example illustrated p. 28).
G. Ramié, Picasso’s Ceramics, Barcelona, 1974, no. 691 (another example illustrated p. 277).
A. Ramié, Picasso, catalogue de l’oeuvre céramique édité 1947-1971, Vallauris, 1988, no. 116 (another example illustrated pp. 66-67).
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

Michelle McMullan
Michelle McMullan Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

'First and foremost, it was this awareness of life and of its fundamentals that led Picasso – aided to a greater or lesser degree by the potters of Vallauris, who shared in the new impulse – to start working in fired clay. With the new material came a resurgence of inspiration and energy that broke new ground and opened up new perspectives across the whole of his work.'
Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, in Picasso, Painter and Sculptor in Clay, exh. cat., London, 1998, p. 22


First purchased by an American collector in 1953, the present lot is marked '2’ and is thus the second example of this design to have been created, following Picasso’s unique prototype (marked '1'; fig. 1) for the edition of 25 (Ramié, no. 216). The wonderfully textured surface of this example alludes to the fact of its early inception; the rustic, white engobe applied lavishly in the background is close to the first example, offset against the soft, creamy tones of the smooth, bare terracotta simulating the look and touch of bare skin.

Possibly inspired by the artist's then companion Françoise Gilot, the figures as well as the curvature of the vase itself echo his Tanagra figurines, emphasising and accentuating the female form. The hourglass form of the vase here is enhanced and celebrated through its comparison with the feminine form of Picasso’s curvaceous models, elegantly rotating around the outer surface, the sensual hips of his figures correlating to the same curves and proportions of the vessel upon which they are painted. As such, Picasso investigates not only the painterly qualities of ceramic, but approaches it furthermore as an investigation of the feminine archetype and a study of volume.

The decoration, clearly an alteration of the edition of Grand vase aux femmes nues (Ramié no. 215), conceived in the same year, consists of four veiled women with a white engobe background accentuated with the black and ochre detailing in the base, hair, and drapery. Here, the artist has developed the simple nude frieze into an entirely new composition, breathing life and movement through the variance of textures, bold facial features and voluminous hair. The glazing of this early creation closely emulates the gestural spontaneity of the studio work of the master himself as seen in the first example, yet the design has transformed slightly since then; the figures are draped with darker, thinner veils in a more translucent terracotta, and with slight variations on the detailing in the fabric and hair. This is therefore the first numbered example using the final palette that would go on to provide the basis for the rest of the edition.

Ceramics played a fundamental part in Picasso's career, from his first experiments in 1947 until his death almost thirty years later. He first visited the Madoura workshop in Vallauris on the invitation of Georges Ramié in 1946 and was immediately attracted by the flexibility of clay and the unusual combination of pictorial and sculptural possibilities that it offered. He was also moved by the ancient associations of the village of Vallauris which had been a ceramic centre since Roman times and particularly inspired by the atavism involved in emulating the primeval practice of fashioning vessels out of this ancient earth.

Appreciated by the artist as a creative medium in its own right, he explored the play offered by ceramic work between line and form - light and shadows - two dimensions and three dimensions. The many complex skills involved took some time for Picasso to learn, but, typically, as soon as he had mastered the techniques, he set about reinventing them in an unorthodox way and observing their transformation in the kiln. This is clear in the complex combination of glazing techniques and oxides used in the present work, Grand vase aux femmes voilées (no. 2) which is a remarkable, early example of Picasso's artistic research and development of this celebrated medium.


The following two works bear the signs of Picasso’s intrepid creativity, when after the Second World War he turned to ceramics, transferring the whimsical world of his pictures and sculptures onto the shapes and vessels of Provençal pottery. Picasso had first visited the Madoura Pottery studio in Vallauris in 1946, invited by Georges and Suzanne Ramié.

Ceramics played a fundamental part in Picasso's career, from his first experiments in 1947 until his death almost thirty years later. He first visited the Madoura workshop in Vallauris on the invitation of Georges Ramié in 1946 and was immediately attracted by the flexibility of clay and the unusual combination of pictorial and sculptural possibilities that it offered. He was also moved by the ancient associations of the village of Vallauris which had been a ceramic centre since Roman times and particularly inspired by the atavism involved in emulating the primeval practice of fashioning vessels out of this ancient earth. The pottery-making history of Vallauris went back to the Roman times, when the area was an important centre of amphorae production; in the 18th Century, Vallauris revived its ancient fame with the production of kitchen earthenware. When Picasso arrived in the 1940s, however, the area was suffering a period of crisis, as mass-produced pottery had invaded the market. André Verdet’s artistic commentary to the documentary Terres et Flammes (1951, directed by Robert Mariaud) traces the history of Vallauris, presenting Picasso as a genius-saviour who gave new artistic impetus to a craft thought to have reached its end. ‘Picasso’s works’, Vedert affirmed in the film, ‘bring back to mind the vivid dignity of what humans have created with their very first artistic gestures’.

Appreciated by the artist as a creative medium in its own right, he explored the play offered by ceramic work between line and form - light and shadows - two dimensions and three dimensions. The many complex skills involved took some time for Picasso to learn, but, typically, as soon as he had mastered the techniques, he set about reinventing them in an unorthodox way and observing their transformation in the kiln. This is clear in the complex combination of glazing techniques, slips and oxides used in the present works, Grand vase aux femmes voilées and Taureau which are remarkable, early examples of Picasso's artistic research and development of this celebrated medium.

Bernard Picasso confirms the importance of the ceramic medium to his grandfather: ‘The sheer range of techniques and materials used or reinvented by Picasso makes his pottery into an art complete in itself….He at least always knew that his 25 years of creative work in pottery would one day be acknowledged as the keystone of a career devoted to constant self-renewal….He was able to sustain his own faith in the art of palette and brush, to which he returned at the end of his life; this was his first and last material and, above all, the chosen weapon of his mind.’ (Bernard Picasso, ‘Pottery: The Desire for Renewal’ in Picasso, Painter and Sculptor in Clay, London 1998, p. 23).

More From Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale

View All