Lot 13
  • 13

Pablo Picasso

2,500,000 - 3,500,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Pablo Picasso
  • Le Réservoir
  • signed Picasso (lower left)
  • ripolin on board
  • 80.5 by 126cm.
  • 31 5/8 by 49 5/8 in.


Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris

Baronne Alix de Rothschild, Paris

Galerie Berggruen, Paris

Private Collection, Switzerland

Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1983


New York, Acquavella Gallery, Masters of the 20th Century, 1974, no. 17

Tokyo, Museum of the City of Tokyo; Nagoya, Prefectural Museum of Aichi; Fukuoka; Fukuoka Cultural Centre & Kyoto, National Museum of Modern Art, Exposition Picasso, 1977-78, no. 57, illustrated in the catalogue

Winnipeg, Winnipeg Art Gallery; Calgary, Glenbow-Alberta Institute; Vancouver, Vancouver Art Gallery; Edmonton, The Edmonton Art Gallery & Toronto, Mira Godard Gallery, Picasso – A Selection of Paintings, Watercolours and Drawings (1902-1972), 1978-79, no. 13, illustrated in the catalogue (with incorrect medium and measurements)

Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Picasso: A Centennial Selection, 1981, no. 44, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (with incorrect medium)

Vienna, Rathaus Wien, Pablo Picasso. Bilder. Zeichnungen. Plastiken, 1981-82, no. 57, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (with incorrect medium)


Wilhelm Boeck & Jaime Sabartés, Picasso, London, 1952, no. 222, illustrated p. 479

Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, œuvres de 1946 à 1953, Paris, 1965, vol. 15, no. 227, illustrated pl. 130 (with incorrect medium)

The Picasso Project (ed.), Picasso’s Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. The Fifties I, 1950-1955, San Francisco, 2000, no. 52-051, illustrated p. 92

Catalogue Note

Le Réservoir is one of a small group of landscapes that Picasso painted over a two week period in September 1952. Depicting the grounds of his distinctive pink villa ‘La Galloise’ (fig. 2) and the surrounding area, these works illustrate the artist’s ongoing love affair with the South of France, rendering in paint the vivid colours and languid atmosphere of the region.

Picasso had visited the small town of Vallauris in the summer of 1946 whilst staying at the nearby Golfe-Juan on the Côte d’Azur. A chance meeting with Suzanne and Georges Ramié and a visit to their Madoura pottery studio ignited a spark that was to prove deeply compelling to Picasso. He returned to Vallauris the following year making the town his permanent home. In 1948, accompanied by Françoise Gilot and their one year old son Claude, the artist moved into ‘La Galloise’ and their daughter Paloma was born there the following year. During his time in Vallauris Picasso continued painting portraits as well as working on the ceramics that had initially drawn him to the region, but the landscape seems to have inspired a new interest in his surroundings, with the artist also increasingly depicting his home and its garden.

Writing about Picasso's landscapes from an earlier date, John Richardson noted: ‘Since he could never depict anything without to some degree identifying with it, Picasso assumes the role of genius loci in landscapes that constitute his first sustained confrontation with nature. He invests the trees with his own life force, as if he were God reinventing the universe in his image. "I want to see my branches grow [...]. That's why I started to paint trees; yet I never paint them from nature. My trees are myself"' (J. Richardson, A Life of Picasso. 1907-1917: The Painter of Modern Life, New York, 1996, vol. II, p. 93). In these later landscapes the same energy is apparent. The deliberately distorted perspective of Le Réservoir presents the distinct elements of the painting simultaneously enveloping the viewer in the landscape. Whereas his landscapes from the early 1940s employed subdued greys and browns to capture the oppressive atmosphere of occupied Paris, in the landscapes of the early 1950s Picasso exalts in the depth and strength of colour (fig. 1). In Le Réservoir this is enhanced by his choice of medium; ever the innovator, Picasso began working using new commercially produced enamels - including ripolin - which provided a lustrous, smooth texture and an unparalleled richness. In the present work he juxtaposes the rosy pink of the villa’s walls with the brilliant blue of sky and water but this wonderful intensity is tempered by the simplicity of his design. Matching large swathes of colour with bold black detail he conjures the peaceful environs of the place that was his home for eight years and perfectly captures the light and heat of this Mediterranean idyll.