Galerie Louis Carré, Paris (by 1946)
Carmess Art Galleries
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired in part from the above on March 19, 1948 and until at least 1949)
Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., London (by 1957)
G. David Thompson, Pittsburgh (sold: Sotheby's, New York, March 23-24, 1966, lot 74)
Alfred H. Barr, Jr., New York (acquired at the above sale)
Roger Van Thornout, Belgium (acquired from the above)
Private Collection, Switzerland
Private Collection (sold: Christie's, London, June 20, 2006, lot 140)
Acquired at the above sale
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Picasso, 1948, no. 12, illustrated in the catalogue
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., XIX and XX Century European Masters, 1957, no. 41, illustrated in the catalogue
Turin Galleria Gissi, Maestri Stranieri, 1963
Bogota, Musée Nacional de Colombia, Pablo Picasso, 2000
Barcelona, Musée Picasso, Picasso, War and Peace, 2004, no. 96, illustrated in the catalogue
Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, oeuvres de 1943 à 1944, vol. 13, Paris, 1962, no. 131, illustrated pl. 71
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso's Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings and Sculpture, A Comprehensive illustrated catalogue, 1885-1973: Nazi Occupation, 1940-1944, San Francisco, 1999, no. 43-241, illustrated p. 265
Because of the confining circumstances of occupied Paris, Picasso made a habit of painting at night or behind heavily shaded windows, and the chromatic severity of his pictures from this time conveys the ambiance under these conditions. Vase de fleurs et compotier belongs to a series of still-life paintings Picasso executed in the latter half of 1943, featuring a bowl of cherries and glasses arranged on a tabletop. The present work is a particularly vibrant example of the motif and more structured and polished than many. The elements of the composition are linked through a series of diagonal lines, with bowl, window, vase and table all rendered in adjoining triangles.
We know from Picasso's dating of this picture that he completed it one day after receiving a summons from the occupying German forces to report for a physical examination. Faced with the prospect of being sent to a work detail in Essen, the ever-defiant Picasso continued to paint, creating one of his most vibrant cherry compositions among this entire series. "It is not time for the creative man to fail, to shrink, to stop working," Picasso told Sidney and Harry Janis. "There is nothing else to do but work seriously and devotedly, struggle for food, see friends quietly and look forward to freedom" (Picasso, quoted in M. McCully, ed., A Picasso Anthology: Documents, Criticism, Reminiscences, Princeton, 1997, p. 224). It was with this sentiment in mind that Picasso continued to paint, relishing in the small, quotidian luxuries presented by a bowl of fresh cherries and yearning of better times ahead.
In the years following the war, Picasso was criticized by some of his contemporaries for the lack of open political engagement in his art. Rather than a vehicle for documenting the destructive reality that surrounded him, painting was for him a world of creativity into which he could escape, and his works of this period certainly express Picasso's state of mind in his own artistic language. Frances Morris wrote about the symbolism of Picasso's still-lifes of the early 1940s: "Above all it was the still-life genre that Picasso developed into a tool capable of evoking the most complex blend of pathos and defiance, of despair to hope, balancing personal and universal experience in an expression of extraordinary emotional power. The hardship of daily life, the fragility of human existence and the threat of death are themes that haunt Picasso's still-life paintings of the war and Liberation periods" (F. Morris, Paris Post War, Art and Existentialism 1945-1955 (exhibition catalogue), Tate Gallery, London, 1993, p. 155).
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