Lot 9
  • 9

Pablo Picasso

1,500,000 - 2,500,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Pablo Picasso
  • Le Fou
  • inscribed Picasso
  • bronze
  • height: 41cm.
  • 16 1/8 in.


Galerie Ambroise Vollard, Paris

Lucien Vollard, Paris (acquired from the above)

Private Collection, Switzerland (acquired from the above in 1948)

Sale: Galerie Kornfeld, Bern, 23rd June 2000, lot 115

Galerie Beyeler, Basel (purchased at the above sale)

Acquired from the above by the late owner in 2007


Una E. Johnson, Ambroise Vollard Editeur, New York, 1944, no. 124, the model mentioned p. 144

Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Les Sculptures de Picasso, Paris, 1948, no. 2, another cast illustrated p. 2 (titled Harlequin)

Guilio Carlo Argan, Scultura di Picasso, Venice, 1953, another cast illustrated pl. IV

Wilhelm Boeck & Jaime Sabartés, Picasso, New York, 1955, no. 32, another cast illustrated p. 460

Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, œuvres de 1895 à 1906, Paris, 1957, vol. I, no. 322, another cast illustrated pl. 148

Roland Penrose, Picasso, Amsterdam, 1961, another cast illustrated pl. 2

Roland Penrose, Picasso Sculpture, New York, 1965, another cast illustrated, pl. 2

Gjon Mili, Picasso's Third Dimension, New York, 1970, detail of another cast illustrated pp. 82-83

Werner Spies, Picasso Sculpture with a Complete Catalogue, London, 1971, no. 4, another cast illustrated pp. 17-18

Frank Elgar & Robert Maillard, Picasso, New York, 1972, another cast illustrated p. 35

Jean Leymarie, Picasso, The Artist of the Century, Lausanne, 1972, another cast illustrated p. 26

Roland Penrose & John Golding (eds.), Picasso, New York, 1973, no. 206, another cast illustrated p. 126

Ron Johnson, The Early Sculpture of Picasso, 1901-1914, New York, 1976, no. 5, another cast illustrated p. 165

Werner Spies, Picasso, Das plastische Werk, Berlin, 1983, no. 4, another cast illustrated pp. 326 & 372

Marie-Laure Besnard-Bernadac, Michele Richet & Helene Seckel, The Picasso Museum: Paintings, Papiers collés, Picture reliefs, Sculptures, and Ceramics, New York, 1985, no. 272, another cast illustrated p. 150

Werner Spies, Picasso: The Sculptures. Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures, Stuttgart, 2000, no. 4, another cast illustrated p. 346

The Picasso Project (ed.), Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. The Rose Period, 1905-1906, San Francisco, 2012, no. 1905-527, another cast illustrated p. 146

Picasso Sculpture (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2015, another cast illustrated in a photograph p. 40; wax original illustrated p. 40 & another cast illustrated p. 297

Catalogue Note

Executed during the brief period between the end of the Blue Period and the beginning of the Rose Period, Picasso's Le Fou points towards the new direction his art was to take for the next couple of years. In 1905 Picasso’s gaze shifted from his immediate surroundings and the unhappiness he had felt after the suicide of his friend Casagemas, which was the catalyst for the Blue Period, and found a new fascination in the world of the fairground and amongst those displaced peoples who were only to be encountered at the very margins of society or on the stage. As Werner Spies writes: ‘This escapist theme with its props, decoration, animals, clowns, and jugglers lent the social motif a Symbolist hue. In these works, the isolation of the individual gives way to the artificial world of performance’ (W. Spies, op. cit., 2000, p. 23). Originally modelled in wax – a technique borrowed from Degas – Le Fou is the three-dimensional embodiment of Picasso’s interest in the dramatic possibilities afforded by the circus and its inhabitants.

In his biography of the artist Roland Penrose described the origin of Le Fou (or The Jester): ‘The Jester, the most accomplished of these (early) bronzes, has a rugged solidity due to its rough modelling which catches the light and spreads it over the form. The face is sensitive and the jester's cap and crown spring from the head like a flower. It was begun late one evening after returning home from the circus with Max Jacob. The clay rapidly took on the appearance of his friend, but next day he continued to work on it and only the lower part of the face retained the likeness. The jester's cap was added as the head changed its personality’ (R. Penrose, Picasso His Life and Work, Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1981, p. 116).

An unknown number of casts, probably not more than fifteen, were made by Picasso's dealer Ambroise Vollard from 1905 until the dealer's death in 1939. These 'Vollard' casts vary in patination and definition but are of uniform size. Una E. Johnson writes ‘It is doubtful that Vollard himself knew the total issue of each bronze. His practice was to keep in his shop an example of each of the bronzes. When a collector or dealer wished to obtain one, Vollard would order a cast made’ (U. E. Johnson, op. cit., 1977, p. 41).