Picasso's Animal Instincts

Launch Slideshow

From the owl he shared a studio with, to the life breathing in the ocean nearby his studio, animals fueled Pablo Picasso's fascination and provided constant inspiration throughout his artistic career. Picasso Man & Beast: Works from the Collection of Marina Picasso has amassed a number of works of significance directly from the artist’s granddaughter. Click ahead to explore some of the playful ceramics and works on paper from Marina Picasso’s personal collection that will appear at auction this season.

Picasso: Man & Beast
18 May | New York

Picasso's Animal Instincts

  • Pablo Picasso, Tête de faune, painted and partially glazed ceramic; tomette (floor tile). Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    Parallels can created between Picasso’s late paintings and the imagery on his late ceramics. A series of plates that were painted as faces during the 1960's speak to how he continued to evolve with the ceramic medium and its techniques.

  • Pablo Picasso, Taureau, painted and varnished ceramic; round plate, 1957. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    When Picasso began to work with ceramics, he discovered that working in fired clay allowed him a new way to create artistic expression. Ho not only used techniques from his expereince of drawing, painting, printmaking and modelin, but he also played with the ceramic process itself.

  • Pablo Picasso, Homme dans un fauteuil, pencil on paper, 1914. Estimate $50,000–70,000.
    Picasso drew every day – a habit he maintained throughout his long career, however his interest in drawing began as a student. Picasso claimed he would diliberately misbehave in the classroom so he would banished him by sending him to a little room. He linked it because he was able take a sketchbook and draw in a space where no one could disturb him.

  • Pablo Picasso, Visage, pencil on blue paper, circa 1936. Estimate $15,000–20,000.
    The drawings in the Marina Picasso collection include early sketches, some of of which were completed in Spain before he moved to France. This vast selection of drawings portrays the artist’s traditional and non-traditional use of drawing techniques and various materials.

  • Pablo Picasso, Vase-femme avec un bras-anse, painted and incised ceramic; vase. Estimate $40,000–60,000.
    For Picasso, the presence of the nude figure in art does not have a past or future tense. Instead, he felt if a work of art is not alive in the present moment, then it might as well not exist.


  • Pablo Picasso, Vase aux deux chèvres, painted, incised and glazed ceramic; wide-bellied vase, 1952. Estimate $50,000–70,000.
    Growing up, Picasso's family had many wild animals, including goats, in and around the house. He felt that maybe his father was like St. Francis of Assisi because animals could not resist his aura.

    In this vase, the bearded faun is painted on a vase with dark eyes that look directly forward and stare out.

  • Pablo Picasso, Deux calamars et un serpent de mer, 1960, painted, incised, and glazed ceramic. Estimate $30,000–40,000.
    Mythological references and images of the sea are addressed in many of Picasso's ceramic works during his time at the Madoura Pottery in Vallauris, near the South of France.

  • Pablo Picasso, Poisson, 1914, watercolor and pencil on paper. Estimate $5,000–7,000.
    Fish and other sea creatures were also subjects of the paintings and drawings that Picasso oten turned to. He once said, “although I came from far away, I am a child of the sea; I long to bathe in it, to gulp down the salty water."

  • Pablo Picasso, Couple enlacé, 1959, colored marker on paper. Estimate $35,000–45,000.
    Of special interest for their rarity in this collection are a significant number of Cubist drawings, in which the complexities of representation and perspective are given new expression. Some of these works on paper relate to paintings, while others were done to elaborate ideas— including variations on still life compositions—or to take them further in terms of their inventiveness. 

  • Pablo Picasso, Portrait de famille, 1962, lithograph and pencil on paper. Estimate $70,000–90,000.
    Marilyn McCully, author and internationally recognized Picasso expert, said the artist’s early drawings of family, as well as street people, reveal not only a talent to characterize people he saw around him, but also demonstrate the ways he would artistically experiment with what he saw.

  • Pablo Picasso, Personnages dans une ville du Midi, 1933, watercolor, brush and ink and ink wash on paper. Estimate $30,000–50,000.
    Drawings remained with Picasso all his life and held a special meaning for him. 

  • Pablo Picasso, Femme de dos, les bras croisés (recto I); Tête de femme cubiste, profil gauche (recto II) & Études de figures (verso): A Double-Sided Work, 1907, pencil and pen and ink on paper. Estimate $70,000–90,000.
    Often Picasso would use both sides of thr paper. This practice provides a clue to understanding how one image might directly affect another as he worked.

  • Pablo Picasso, Taureau, 1957, modeled and incised clay. Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    Picasso’s late work is filled with references to his youth in Spain and also to important moments in his life and development as an artist.  thought that it is not the role of the painter to create symbols. He once said, "The observer interprets bulls and horses as symbols, for that is how he knows them. They are animals.”

  • Pablo Picasso, La Corrida, 1951, painted and glazed ceramic. Estimate $30,000–40,000.
    Ceramics also evoked memories of Picasso’s native Spain, and certain subjects such as the bullfight, are explored in fired clay with great wit, inventiveness and, it could be said, a sense of nostalgia. Picasso also took delight in the analogy of using a round or oval ceramic platter to evoke the shape of the bullring—with a foreshortened view provided by the oval—and he often populated the border with the crowd.

  • Pablo Picasso, Portrait, 1945, oil on paper. Estimate $80,000–120,000.
    Ranging from the playful to the introspective, his depictions of the animal kingdom are paired with his characteristic studies of the human form that track the stylistic shifts from his student years to his early experiments with Cubism to his mature drawings. 


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