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Monday, 9 June 2014

How to pick up a genuine Picasso Terracotta tile for £400

Owning a work by Pablo Picasso would seem beyond the dreams of all but the world’s wealthiest collectors. But a forthcoming auction will allow fans of the artist to pick up a Picasso for as little as £400 – albeit for a terracotta tile measuring 5x5 inches. The tile is among 170 lots in a sale of Picasso ceramics that also includes plates, vases, jugs and bowls designed by the great 20th century artist. The sale will take place at Sotheby’s in London on Wednesday, and offers an “exceptional” selection of the artist’s clay work. Eighteen of the lots can be had for £800 or less if they achieve their low estimates, although chances are they will fetch rather more. The highest estimate of £60,000-£80,000 is attached to a vase decorated with bullfighting scenes. The prices are a far cry from the £70 million commanded by Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust in 2010, making it the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. The works are made affordable by the fact they were produced in runs of up to 500; and while the artist painted the designs, he left the actual pottery-making to others. All of the pieces were created during the last decades of the artist’s life, in collaboration with the Madoura pottery on the French Riviera. Animals, birds, nymphs and mythological characters are featured in the designs, including the minotaur, a recurring motif in Picasso’s work. The Spanish artist first visited the pottery in Vallauris in 1946, where he struck up a friendship with the owners, Georges and Suzanne Ramié. The appeal of the artisan lifestyle and the opportunity to work in a new medium prompted Picasso to ask the couple if he could work with them, and in 1947 he began creating his own pieces there. A corner of the workshop was duly set aside for him, and he was treated like any other employee – although his fellow workers did not have Brigitte Bardot, Gary Cooper or Richard Attenborough drop by for a chat. Customers who approached the elderly employee looking for sales advice were astonished to find themselves face to face with the celebrity artist. In all, Picasso spent 24 years at Madoura, producing 633 designs in limited editions ranging from 25 to 500. He died in 1973. It was also the place where he met the final love of his life. Jacqueline Roque was a cousin of Suzanne Ramié and employed there as a sales assistant. Despite the age difference – she was 27, he was 72 – they began a romance, and she became his muse and second wife. Sotheby’s said: “Beginning with his first trip to Vallauris in the summer of 1946, Pablo Picasso remained enchanted by the freedom and expressive nature of the ceramic medium throughout the last 25 years of his life. “Working with the Ramié family during these years, Picasso found great satisfaction working with clay – the alchemy of working with slips and glazes, the effects of texture and colour, and the daily life of the artisan attracted him greatly. “In these works we truly see Picasso’s freedom of thought and creative powers, and the sense of playfulness for which he was so renowned.” In 2012, the son of Georges and Suzanne Ramié sold 543 items which had remained at the Madoura pottery since the artist’s death, including pottery, prints and photography. It fetched £8 million, over four times its pre-sale estimate. Daily Telegraph 5/5/2014

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