Picasso Ceramics at Sotheby's

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Sotheby’s London are delighted to offer an exceptional selection of Picasso Ceramics in our forthcoming Prints & Multiples sale on the 17 September 2013. Beginning with his first trip to Vallauris in the summer of 1946, Picasso remained enchanted by the freedom and expressive nature of the ceramic medium throughout the last 25 years of his life. Working with the Ramié family during these years, Picasso found great satisfaction in working with clay – the alchemy of working with slips and glazes, the effects of texture and colour, and the daily life of the artisan attracted him greatly. These elements, combined with the surrounds of the Côte d’Azur, created a font of inspiration for Picasso, and we see many motifs recurring such as the fish, goats, and famous corridas of the area. In these works we truly see Picasso’s freedom of thought and creative powers, and the sense of playfulness for which he was so renowned.

Featured in the sale, amongst other pieces, are a selection of plates and dishes from the famous Service visage noir (lots 169, 170 & 171) which was created by Picasso in 1948, and as such is one of the earliest pieces he ever designed. A complete set was gifted by the town of Vallauris to Rita Hayworth as a wedding present on the day of her wedding to Prince Aly Khan. The joyful pieces embody the spirit of fun that is often seen in Picasso's Post-War work, when he had just moved down to the glorious South of France and was filled with hope that the horrors of the previous half-century were finally behind his beloved Europe.

Joueur de diaule, 1947, is another very early work from the first years of Picasso's experimentation with clay. It is only number 12 of 200 pieces made by the Madoura craftsmen under Picasso's guidance, making it both a rare and early example. The platter depicts the delighted face of a faun playing the double flute, an instantly recognisable classical image of which Picasso was repeatedly drawn. For Picasso the Côte d'Azur was a bucolic paradise, inhabited by fauns, nymphs, mythical goats and, of course, the Minotaur. Other highlights include the two iconic vases - Vase deux anses hautes and Visage aux yeux rieurs.