A sale of Important Ceramics by Pablo Picasso (Sotheby’s 18 March) has scuppered the master’s original intentions behind creating multiples. Picasso’s original dream that anyone could own one of his works, was further undermined, at Sotheby’s London, this week, as the results almost tripled their pre-sale low estimates to bring £1,726,625 ($2,548,153), with a 95% sell-through rate by lot and 68% of the works sold achieving prices above their high estimates.
Picasso was a committed socialist. He even agreed to provide an edition of lithographs which were available to all ‘ State schools’ in Britain. The pottery that he created for the Madoura Pottery in the South of France was intended to be an inexpensive way for the average person to afford one of his original works. This is no longer the case.
Seven of the top ten prices established records for the subjects. The top lot,Tripode, soared above its estimate to bring £233,000 (est. £55,000-65,000), while many pieces reached amounts well above pre-sale expectations, includingChouette visage de femme, which sold for £37,500, more than 12 times its estimate.
Séverine Nackers, Head of Prints, Sotheby’s Europe, commented: “Picasso’s ceramics offer new and experienced collectors the opportunity to own an original work by the artist. Buyers are drawn to these pieces because ultimately each ceramic is so distinctly recognisable as ‘a Picasso’. The vases, pitchers, plates, bowls and more, showcase Picasso’s playful side and are imbued with a sense of joie de vivre. His originality, his limitless innovation and creative scope, make his ceramics a delight to own, and our sale, in which every kind of ceramic he produced was represented, made possible the twentieth-century master’s wish to make his art widely accessible.”
The preceding day, the auction of Prints & Multiples (17 March) realised £3,811,563 ($5,649,499), surpassing its £2.95 million pre-sale low estimate. A roll call of stellar artists took the stage, led by Rembrandt alongside key artists of the twentieth century, including Picasso, Munch, Chagall and Warhol, the most important printmakers in the graphic medium’s history. Rembrandt’s The Three Crosses, considered one of the masterpieces of printmaking, commanded the highest price when it sold for £221,000.