Set of 4 medallions:
xxv. Trèfle--signed, numbered 5/20 and 1683/1713 on the reverse; 4.5 by 5.3 cm, 1 3/4 by 2 1/8 in.
xxvi. Rond--signed, numbered 5/20 and 1678/1770 on the reverse; 5 by 5 cm, 2 by 2 in.
xxvii. Poisson--signed, numbered 5/20 and 1691/1712 on the reverse; 5.3 by 4.1 cm, 2 1/8 by 1 5/8 in.
xxviii. Médaillon ovale--signed, numbered 5/20 and 1682/1711 on the reverse; 5.3 by 3.2 cm, 2 1/8 by 1 1/4 in.
Pablo Picasso is undoubtedly one of the most important artists of the 20th century, and the influences of his versatile works and career as a painter, sculptor, ceramicist, and even stage designer are crucial to the development of modern art. An integral part of his artistic output, Picasso's medallions and plates are testament to the artist's prowess in the medium of plastic arts which were introduced to the artist in 1946 when Picasso visited the annual potters' exhibition in Vallauris, France – a centre for the production of pottery dating back to the Roman era. The visit incited a life-long passion for and dedication to ceramics working alongside Suzanne and Georges Ramié of the Madoura workshop. Most of Picasso's pottery were designed by the artist then subsequently cast into gold or silver by François Hugo and his son Pierre Hugo who were one of the most accomplished gold- and silversmiths in France in the second half of the twentieth century.
The motifs found on the silver plates and gold medallions are drawn from sources that have inspired Picasso throughout his artistic career. In Profil de Jacqueline, the sitter is Picasso's last love affair and wife Jacqueline Roque whose portraits are promptly featured in many of the artist's best paintings. The imagery found on Joie de vivre is meanwhile a tribute to Modernist master Henri Matisse whose death in 1954 greatly affected Picasso. The ornamental forms, fluid lines and composition of dancers in a circle on the plate recall Matisse's most famed painting La Danse from 1909. Bulls, horses and Minotaurs make up another prevalent theme in Picasso's oeuvre. Since a young age, the artist often attended bullfights in his native country of Spain and continued to do so often throughout France. The vigour and power of these animals and violent events are well captured in the dynamic composition found in Centaure.
Motifs from Picasso's muses, his fascination with bullfights and his admiration for Matisse are promptly featured throughout the full set of twenty-eight medallions as well. Upon seeing the silver plates, Picasso's wife at the time, Jacqueline, suggested that he make some in the form of jewellery for a girl to wear. The inspiration eventually materialised, with Picasso making twenty-four medallions using designs from the silver plates and four more from other compotiers. The technique remained the same, however a hook was added to the back of the medallions so that they could be easily turned into necklace pendants to be worn as artist's jewels on the body. The present lot presents a rare opportunity for a collector to acquire the entire set at once. Like the silver plates, the medallions were often casted on demand or given off individually to the artist's friends as gifts. It took the present owner several years of patient collecting to assemble the complete set of medallions.
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