Perhaps no other name in modern art sparks the imagination like that of Pablo Picasso. A painter, an etcher, an illustrator, a draughtsman, a jeweller, and a ceramicist, Picasso was an undisputed genius – in an age where overuse robbed the word of meaning. Bringing together works by the master himself, as well as photographs and ephemera, Bonhams’ new sale, Picassomania on 23 March in London, will celebrate his expansive oeuvre – as well as all things Picasso. Leading the sale will be Visage de Faune, a 22-carat gold repoussé plate, which has an estimate of £250,000-350,000.
Head of Sale, Lucia Tro Santafe, commented: “Picasso is rightly one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th Century, and Picassomania showcases the full diversity of his oeuvre – and his versatility as an artist. It includes all mediums, from ceramics and prints, through to unique works on paper and photographs. One of the highlights of the sale is undeniably Visage de Faune. Not only is this exquisite gold plate depicting the faun motif so beloved of Picasso during the post-war period unique, it is also in fact the first of its kind: a prototype for Picasso creations in gold produced in collaboration with François and Pierre Hugo. It is simply exceptional.”
In 1946 Pablo Picasso made his first visit to Vallauris in the South of France. It was there that he started to obsessively produce works in clay and would go on to design hundreds of works of pottery – full of playful and mythological motifs – alongside the talented craftsmen of the Madoura. A decade after his arrival in Vallauris, Picasso was introduced to the goldsmith François Hugo. Over the course of the next two decades, they collaborated on a series of plates, vases, medallions and compotiers, many of which were related to the designs that Picasso had created for his ceramics. During their collaboration Picasso created small editions of the silver dishes and gold medallions, as well as a single unique gold dish for each design.
Reflecting on his father’s relationship with Picasso, the master goldsmith Pierre Hugo, has said, “Pablo Picasso, just like Claes Oldenburg, had a devoted admiration for gold. ‘Do you think it could be possible to create an artwork in gold?’, he asked. From this conversation they created the first gold plate: the smaller dimensions of Visage de faune were a necessity as my father did not have the money to buy more of the precious metal, and the work became the first prototype for the pieces created after by Picasso and my father. On seeing the first finished gold plate Picasso was mesmerised: he took the work in his hands and brought it to his lips like a baby. ‘What are you doing Pablo?’, asked my father. ‘I am tasting it, I have never tasted gold before! It has a taste!’, answered the artist.”
Highlights of the sale include:
- Pablo Picasso, Nature morte sous la Lampe, 1962. Estimate: £80,000-120,000.
- Pablo Picasso, Portrait de Jacqueline aux Cheveux Lisses, 1962. Estimate £90,000-120,000.
- Pablo Picasso, Minotaure aveugle guidé par une Fillette II, from La Suite Vollard, 1933. Estimate £15,000-20,000.
- Robert Capa, Picasso and Francoise Gilot, 1948. Estimate: £5,000-7,000.
- Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob, Saint Matorel, D. Henry Kahnweiler, 1911. Estimate £35,000-45,000.
- Pablo Picasso, Pichet à glace, 1952. Estimate £20,000-30,000.
- Pablo Picasso, Femme aux Cheveux Flous, 1964. Estimate £10,000-15,000.
- André Villers (1930-2016), Picasso with cigarette, 1955. Estimate: £1,500 – 2,500.