Picasso’s work produced in the South of France is characterised by his enthusiastic engagement with clay, and a playful aesthetic inspired by the light-infused atmosphere of the region. Picasso was 65 when he left Paris at the end of the war in 1946 for the Côte d’Azur. While staying with the printer Louis Fort in Golfe-Juan, the two came across Madoura and this led quite simply to the artist’s engagement with the pottery traditions of the area. There was also an influence on a personal level as the artist met his second wife, Jacqueline, when she was working in the Madoura pottery studio in Vallauris. She began to live with Picasso in Paris in late 1954 and they together moved to the villa La Californie in 1955.
Jacqueline’s strong features, her prominent profile, and her dark hair and eyes are readily found in much of the art Picasso made during these joyful years. Earlier portrayals often depict Jacqueline with her abundant hair covered by a headscarf, as seen in these two red and white earthenware empreinte. In the empreinte, the artist’s carved and modelled plaster mould would be pressed into the clay, leaving the unpainted impression as the only decoration. Picasso developed the method at the Madoura studio, inspired by the process of print making.
This composition appears again in the 1958 lithograph Jacqueline au mouchoir noir with her distinct features, headscarf and even the striped blouse easily identifiable.
PABLO PICASSO, JACQUELINE AU MOUCHOIR NOIR (B. 873; M., PP. 316), LITHOGRAPH, 1958. ESTIMATE £10,000–15,000.
And again in the 1956 pair of plaques, in this instance Jacqueline’s strong features are emphasized by the contrasting white earthenware and pigment.
In two depictions of Jacqueline, from 1956 again and a lithograph from 1958, her headscarf has been removed and Jacqueline’s adundant hair in both instances provides the darkest mass of the composition.
Finally, in 1962, one year after their marriage, Picasso portrays Jacqueline as a classical deity, the contrasting red earthenware and black patina underscoring the allusion to ancient pottery.
Profile de Jacqueline (A. R. 457), Red earthenware plate, 1962. Estimate £5,000–7,000.