Eugenia Errasuriz, Paris and Biarritz (gift from the artist) Private collection, France (from circa 1925) Sotheby's, London, February 4, 2004, lot 464 Collection Jacques Grange, Paris
Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Dating from 1917-1918 Compotier sur un meuble is a work that signs the maturity, even the accomplishment of Picasso's synthetic Cubism and also announces a period of personal happiness in Picasso's life which coincided with the budding of new artistic techniques.
A few months after Cocteau introduced him to Diaghilev and the beginning of the Russian Ballet period, Picasso painted Compotier sur un meuble. This juxtaposition which led to an enmeshment of styles without the slightest anachronism or lack of taste is maybe one of the most astounding features of Picasso's art. The silent order and stability of Compotier sur un meuble are not incompatible with the sway of the curtains, the colourful fabrics and even the most traditional of his portraits painted at the same time – Picasso's genius and infinite plastic creativity do not seem to be moored in this negation. From the genre of still-life - the fetish genre of Cubism –– Picasso never ceased to question his art, to explore its form with ardour and rigour. In this condensed work of accomplished synthetism, Picasso once more and from nothing, demonstrated the possibility of a new organisation of forms for which the visible world is not enough. The research is severe. But such balance. The harmony of reconstructed forms is reinforced by the coherency of tone. The coherency of greys, browns, the densest of blacks, raw whites and ochres, is all the more evident just as within a muted or slightly brutalised chromatics, we perceive the softest of harmonies.
In 1916, in the dawning context of the Russian Ballet, Picasso met Olga Khokholova, a young and beautiful dark haired dancer born in the Russian Empire. Picasso married her in Paris in 1918 at the Saint-Alexandre-Nevsky Cathedral. Cocteau, Apollinaire and Max Jacob were witnesses of the marriage. Paulo was born in 1921. The portraits of his beloved such as Olga à la mantille and Olga au fauteuil are among the most beautiful. The recently married couples spent their honeymoon in Biarritz in the house of Eugenia Errasuriz. Photographed several times by Man Ray, an essential and elegant figure of fashion and taste as early as the end of the 19th century, Eugenia was the initial owner of the work. Picasso gave it to her. In 1915 it was Cocteau who introduced them to each other. She introduced him to the King of Spain. Picasso was to reign over the century.
Executed on cream wove paper, not laid down, hinged to the overmount in two places along the upper edge. The upper, right and lower edges are deckled. There is no evidence of retouching under UV light. There are a few flecks of pigment loss towards the lower part of the left edge and along the extreme edges. There is some minor light staining to the reverse. This work is in very good condition. "In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."