Lot 16
  • 16

Pablo Picasso

5,000,000 - 7,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Pablo Picasso
  • Guitare, verre, bouteille de Vieux Marc
  • Signed Picasso (upper left)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 18 1/8 by 13 1/4 in.
  • 46.2 by 33.7 cm


Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris

Arthur B. Davies, New York (sold: American Art Association, New York, April 16 and 17, 1929, lot 404)

Feragil Gallery, New York (acquired at the above sale)

Ethel King Russell (Mrs. Charles H. Russell), New York (by 1946)

Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York

Walter Buhl Ford II, Grosse Point (acquired from the above on March 20, 1961 and sold: Sotheby's, New York, November 02, 2005, lot 6)

Acquired at the above sale


New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Retrospective Summer Exhibition, 1930, no. 75

New York, Jacques Seligmann & Co., 1910-12: The Climactic Years in Cubism, 1946, no. 15


Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, oeuvres de 1906 à 1907, vol. II*, Paris, 1942, no. 355, illustrated pl. 170

Pierre Daix & Joan Rosselet, Le Cubisme de Picasso, Neuchâtel, 1979, no. 491, illustrated p. 283

Catalogue Note

Guitare, verre, bouteille de Vieux Marc, executed during the summer of 1912 while Picasso was on holiday in Sorgues, is a superb example of the Cubist compositions he completed at the commencement of the war.  What is most startling here are the bright, primary colors, which were a dramatic departure from the earth-toned palette that filled the artist's Cubist still lifes of prior years.  Over the course of the 1910s, Picasso’s Cubism developed from fractured, highly abstract “analytical” depictions of form to more legible “synthetic” compositions that often incorporated elements of collage.  Guitare, verre, bouteille de Vieux Marc, along with the other works that Picasso completed in Sorgues that summer, was created on the cusp of these two phases of Cubism and incorporates the characteristics of both. 

Picasso's time away from Paris during the summer of 1912 allowed him to reassess his aesthetic goals and reflect on the principles of Cubism that he, along with Georges Braque, had created four years earlier.  The pictures that he completed while working in Céret in the beginning of the summer show that he had begun to consider the effect of color and its ability to create dimensions within his compositions.  Over the next few weeks his paintings took on a clarity and strength of form that was new to the Cubist vocabulary.  In this work, Picasso has fragmented his composition into broad, vertical planes. But unlike the highly-abstracted deconstructed still-lifes of the prior year, the objects retain much of their original shape.  Most recognizable among them are the hour-glass side panel and strings of the guitar, and the cylindrical top of the bottle.  The text also plays a structural role here and acts as a band that neatly unites all of the fragmented elements of the composition.

In his discussion about this new style, Pierre Daix has written the following:  "It is not pictorial illusion of a relief but one of many optical experiments, both graphic and colouristic, used to obtain a surface that functions, to the eye, like an expressive three-dimensional model of reality" (Daix, op. cit., p. 104).

One of the most dramatic developments in these pictures was the inclusion of text, which Picasso has superimposed over the image of the bottle and the other objects of this composition.  The inclusion of words helped to define the objects that Picasso was painting and also introduced the idea of text as a means of pictorial enhancement.  This technique, while not new to the history of painting, was one that incited a watershed of new developments in Cubist painting, ultimately leading to the use of collage when Picasso returned to Paris that autumn.  Here, Picasso's bold, stenciled letters VIEUX MARC mimic the label of a popular bottle of spirits.  But instead of limiting the placement of the letters on the bottle itself, he has enlarged and spread them across the entire composition to create an entirely new context for the words.  This redefinition of spatial boundaries and the appropriation of advertising text for an entirely different purpose was the hallmark of the papier collé compositions that Picasso, Braque and Gris would complete the following year.