Pablo Picasso, 'Vase Gros Oiseau Vert'. Lot 80. Large terre de faïence vase, 1960, numbered 25/25, glazed and painted green, with the Madoura and Edition Picasso stamps. Height: 575mm; 22 1/2 in. ESTIMATE 25,000-35,000 GBP.
Pre-sale exhibitions at auction houses are often an opportunity for an art lover to see a varied range of work, rather than a focused show on just one artist. But this weekend at Sotheby’s in London, a presentation puts the ceramics of Pablo Picasso under the spotlight, with over 100 plates, bowls, pitchers, tiles and vases produced by the titan of modern art. All the works are taken from a single-owner private collection.
In 1947, when the Málaga-born artist was in his sixties, he moved from the French capital to the Madoura pottery studio in Vallauris, in the rural south-east – a famed region for ceramics since Roman times. Under the wing of Suzanne and George Ramié, who ran the atelier, the old master underwent an apprenticeship like a young man, and over the following years he brought the playful, spontaneous, semi-figurative style seen in his paintings, sculptures and prints to a whole new medium.
Pablo Picasso, Plat Poisson. Lot 32. Terre de faïence platter, 1952, a unique variant, dated 6.6.52, partially glazed and painted
white, blue, green, black and beige, with the Madoura and Empreinte Originale de Picasso
stamps. Diameter: 418mm; 16 1/2 in. ESTIMATE 25,000-35,000 GBP.
Subjects and motifs common in his past works – such as animals forms, bullfights, portraits of women – found a new stage for their expression in his ceramics. The show includes a charming plate (1952, estimate £25,000–35,000) decorated with a fish that, although partially glazed, has the vibrancy of wet paint on canvas. Other pieces, like a vase in the form a green bird (1960, estimate £25,000–35,000) and another decorated with four faces (1957, estimate £18,000–30,000), have the presence of Pre-Colombian sculptures.
Sam Phillips is a London-based arts journalist and contributor to RA Magazine