Lot 15
  • 15

PABLO PICASSO | Verre et pichet

1,800,000 - 2,500,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Pablo Picasso
  • Verre et pichet
  • signed Picasso (upper left); dated 23-14-Juillet 44 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 33 by 41cm.
  • 13 by 16 1/8 in.
  • Painted between 14th-23rd July 1944.


Private Collection, France Galerie Beyeler, Basel (acquired from the above in June 1966)

Jane Wade, Ltd., New York (acquired from the above in October 1966)

Private Collection, New York (acquired from the above in 1966. Sold: Christie's, New York, 6th November 2007, lot 71)

Richard Green Fine Art, London (purchased at the above sale)

Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above in March 2008. Sold: Sotheby's, New York, 4th November 2014, lot 11)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Picasso, Werke von 1932-1965, 1967, no. 26, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, œuvres de 1944 à 1946, Paris, 1963, vol. 14, no. 5, illustrated pl. 3 Carsten-Peter Warncke, Pablo Picasso, Cologne, 1994, vol. II, illustrated in colour p. 462

Catalogue Note

Painted under cover of darkness in his studio on the Rue des Grands-Augustins, this work is one of Picasso's finest nocturnal still-lifes from the war years. Because of the confining circumstances of occupied Paris, Picasso made a habit of painting at night or behind heavily shaded windows, and the chromatic severity of his pictures from this time conveys the ambiance under these conditions. Verre et pichet belongs to a series of oils that Picasso completed in July 1944, when the end the occupation was in sight, and was painted only several weeks before the celebrated series of the tomato plant, now considered Picasso's ultimate symbol of the spirit of hope and resilience that characterised this time (fig. 1). The present work, which the artist began on Bastille Day, is a particularly vibrant example with a pitcher of lemonade, and it is more structured and polished than many others in this series. The elements of the composition are linked through a series of diagonal lines, with pitcher, window, lemon and table all rendered in adjoining triangles. In the years following the war, Picasso was criticised by some of his contemporaries for the lack of open political engagement in his art. Rather than a vehicle for documenting the destructive reality that surrounded him, painting was for him a world of creativity into which he could escape, and his works of this period certainly express Picasso's state of mind in his own artistic language. 'It is not time for the creative man to fail, to shrink, to stop working', Picasso told Sidney and Harry Janis of his experience in occupied Paris. 'There is nothing else to do but work seriously and devotedly, struggle for food, see friends quietly and look forward to freedom' (P. Picasso quoted in Marilyn McCully (ed.), A Picasso Anthology: Documents, Criticism, Reminiscences, Princeton, 1997, p. 224). 

Frances Morris wrote about the symbolism of Picasso's still-lifes of the early 1940s: 'Above all it was the still-life genre that Picasso developed into a tool capable of evoking the most complex blend of pathos and defiance, of despair to hope, balancing personal and universal experience in an expression of extraordinary emotional power. The hardship of daily life, the fragility of human existence and the threat of death are themes that haunt Picasso's still-life paintings of the war and Liberation periods' (F. Morris in Paris Post War, Art and Existentialism 1945-1955 (exhibition catalogue), Tate Gallery, London, 1993, p. 155).