Selections from Picasso's La caisse à remords
Property from a Private West Coast Collection
In 1960, Picasso and Jacques Frelaut, a printer at Lacourière's studio in Paris, reviewed over 100 intaglio plates from the artist's early career that had never been editioned. Amongst these, 45 plates were chosen to be issued in a new portfolio. Frélaut printed each in an edition of 50 in 1961 and the impressions were personally delivered in a caisse (box) to Picasso for signature. He put the box in a corner of the studio and said he would sign them when he found the time. Of course, he never did. This story illustrates the difficulty of publishing prints with Picasso, who had little patience for the protocol of signing and numbering editions that he had authorized. Thus these impressions have been coined La caisse à remords, which can be roughly translated as The Box of Neglect.
In 1980, the artist's heirs authorized Galerie Louise Leiris to issue these impressions. Under their supervision, a stamped signature was applied and each impression was numbered. For the most part, the gallery sold the plates individually.
These images have become increasingly desirable in recent years for a number of reasons. First, they are beautifully printed by one of the finest intaglio printers of the mid-Twentieth Century and the edition size is relatively small. In addition, due to the fact that these plates were not issued immediately upon completion, they represent an undercurrent in the artist's work that is not present in the more commonly recognizable prints. Some of the early plates (lots 136 and 137, for example) were inspired by his brief years of happiness with Olga Koklova, the Russian Ballerina who was his first wife. Others show the artist's early interest in scandalous themes, which became more apparent in later life. Still others are simply charming images that were happily rescued from obsurity.