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Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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New York

Pablo Picasso
1881 - 1973
VERRE ET PICHET 
Signed Picasso (upper left); dated 23-14-Juillet 44 on the reverse
Oil on canvas 
13 by 16 3/8 in
33 by 41.5 cm
Painted 14-23 July 1944.
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Provenance

Galerie Beyeler, Basel

Jean Planque, Paris

Jane Wade, Ltd., New York

Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1966 and sold: Christie's, New York, November 6, 2007, lot 71)

Richard Green Fine Art, London (acquired at the above sale)

Acquired from the above in March 2008

Exhibited

Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Picasso, Works from 1932-1965, 1967, no. 26, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Literature

Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, vol. 14, Paris, 1963, no. 5, illustrated pl. 3

Carsten-Peter Warncke, Pablo Picasso 1881-1973, vol. II, Cologne, 1994, illustrated in color p. 462

Catalogue Note

Painted under cover of darkness in his studio on the rue des Grands-Augustins, this work is one of Picasso's nocturnal still-lifes from the war years. 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.  Verre et pichet belongs to a series of pictures that Picasso completed in the summer of 1944, just as the occupation was about to end.  The present work, which the artist began on Bastille Day, is a particularly vibrant example with a pitcher of lemonade, and it is more structured and polished than many others in this series.  The elements of the composition are linked through a series of diagonal lines, with pitcher, window, lemon and table all rendered in adjoining triangles.

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.  "It is not time for the creative man to fail, to shrink, to stop working," Picasso told Sidney and Harry Janis of his experience in occupied Paris.  "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). 

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).

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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New York