PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973) Visage de faune 25cm (9 3/4in). diameter; 41.6 cm. (16 3/8in.) diameter with the presentation box (Conceived in 1955; this unique example in gold executed in 1968 by François and Pierre Hugo. This work is the first prototype of a gold plate ever made by François Hugo in collaboration with Pablo Picasso.)

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Lot 39* AR
PABLO PICASSO
(1881-1973)
Visage de faune

Sold for £ 312,750 (US$ 416,935) inc. premium
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973)
Visage de faune
dated '28.6.55.' (upper right); stamped with the signature and incised 'Exemplaire avant la lettre' (on the reverse), further stamped with the goldsmith's mark and the French assay mark for gold (on the lower reverse rim)
22 carat gold repoussé plate with wooden presentation box
25cm (9 3/4in). diameter; 41.6 cm. (16 3/8in.) diameter with the presentation box
Conceived in 1955; this unique example in gold executed in 1968 by François and Pierre Hugo. This work is the first prototype of a gold plate ever made by François Hugo in collaboration with Pablo Picasso.

Footnotes

  • The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Ateliers Hugo.

    Provenance
    Atelier François & Pierre Hugo, France.
    Private Collection, France (acquired from the above in 1971).
    Private collection, France (acquired from the above in 1995).

    Literature
    G. Bloch, Pablo Picasso, Catalogue de l'oeuvre gravé céramique, 1949-1971, Vol. III, Bern, 1972, no. 63 (earthenware version illustrated p. 59).
    D. Cooper, Picasso, 19 plats en argent par François et Pierre Hugo, Paris, 1977 (silver version illustrated).
    A. Ramié, Picasso, Catalogue of the edited ceramic works, 1947-1971, Vallauris, 1988, no. 282 & 283 (terracotta and white earthenware versions illustrated p. 145).
    P. Hugo & C. Siaud, Bijoux d'artistes, Hommage à François Hugo, Aix-en-Provence, 2001, no. 1409 (silver version illustrated p. 148, & gold
    medallion version illustrated p. 153).

    I was ten years old the day I met Picasso for the first time. My father had been working for him for one or two years. Picasso looked at me with his piercing eyes, wondering what a child like me could possibly be doing in a goldsmith's workshop. I was watching my father at work.

    The look of the great painter intrigued and scared me.

    "What are you doing young boy," asked the artist?
    "I am watching my father at work."

    A spark of interest made his eyes light up.

    "You could come to my studio to watch me at work too if you wanted."

    I was delighted by his offer, I felt accepted. Over the years I got to know him well, to admire and discover this good, generous and funny man. During my first stay at 'La Californie', his villa in Cannes, I fell in love with his studio and his daughter Paloma. A frisson that caught the master's eye instantly.

    This was 1957, and from that moment on the friendship and collaboration between my father and Picasso continued to grow. When my father spoke to Picasso about a castle near to Aix-en-Provence, Picasso bought it: "Cézanne painted La Sainte Victoire... but I bought it", he said with pride.

    Pablo Picasso, just like Claes Oldenburg, had a devoted admiration for gold. "Do you think it could be possible to create an artwork in gold?", he asked. From this conversation they created the first gold plate: the smaller dimensions of Visage de faune (lot 39) were a necessity as my father did not have the money to buy more of the precious metal, and the work became the first prototype for the pieces created after by Picasso and my father.

    On seeing the first finished gold plate Picasso was mesmerised: he took the work in his hands and brought it to his lips like a baby.

    "What are you doing Pablo", asked my father?
    "I am tasting it, I have never tasted gold before! It has a taste!", answered the artist.

    And the two men settled in to a lunch of lobsters, with Jacqueline and my mother Monique watching them fondly. I was proud of my father, and happy to see Pablo with tears of joy in his eyes. It was a time of precious memories, that I have held dearly ever since.

    From then onwards, my father and Picasso collaborated together until the artist's death in 1973. Together they made silver plates and compotiers, sculptures, medallions and the unique gold plates. Nothing could stop Picasso's creative genius. Even after his death, his greatness lived on in the artworks he created in our atelier.

    - Pierre Hugo, master goldsmith.



    In 1946 Pablo Picasso famously made his first visit to Vallauris in the South of France, and there discovered a latent desire to create works of exceptional beauty in clay. He was driven by a desire to create sculptural objects full of the joyousness and mythological motifs that typified his Post-War output: vases, dishes, bowls, even ashtrays decorated with fauns, flute players and the animals of his arcadia. He worked slavishly; a passion for creating these objects had been unleashed. Over the years that followed Picasso would design hundreds of works alongside the talented craftsmen of the Madoura pottery, and his interest in creating objects of everyday use imbued with his unique genius never waned from this point on.

    A decade after his arrival in Vallauris, Picasso was introduced to the goldsmith François Hugo by their mutual friends Douglas Cooper and John Richardson. Just like his introduction to the Ramié's, this was a fateful meeting that resulted in the two artists creating exceptional objects together over the course of the next two decades. They worked together on a series of beautiful plates, vases, medallions and compotiers, many of which were related to the designs he had created for his ceramics.

    Picasso was fascinated by the process of creating the wax matrix for each new design, with Hugo warming the precious metal and beating it by hand into the matrix – resulting in the shimmering surface of every repoussé dish or medallion. Over the course of their collaboration Picasso created small editions of the silver dishes and gold medallions, as well as a single unique gold dish for each design. Not only is the present work, depicting the faun so beloved of Picasso during this period, one of these precious unique objects, it is in fact the first of its kind: a prototype for Picasso and Hugo's creations in gold.
Contacts
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973) Visage de faune 25cm (9 3/4in). diameter; 41.6 cm. (16 3/8in.) diameter with the presentation box (Conceived in 1955; this unique example in gold executed in 1968 by François and Pierre Hugo. This work is the first prototype of a gold plate ever made by François Hugo in collaboration with Pablo Picasso.)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973) Visage de faune 25cm (9 3/4in). diameter; 41.6 cm. (16 3/8in.) diameter with the presentation box (Conceived in 1955; this unique example in gold executed in 1968 by François and Pierre Hugo. This work is the first prototype of a gold plate ever made by François Hugo in collaboration with Pablo Picasso.)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973) Visage de faune 25cm (9 3/4in). diameter; 41.6 cm. (16 3/8in.) diameter with the presentation box (Conceived in 1955; this unique example in gold executed in 1968 by François and Pierre Hugo. This work is the first prototype of a gold plate ever made by François Hugo in collaboration with Pablo Picasso.)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973) Visage de faune 25cm (9 3/4in). diameter; 41.6 cm. (16 3/8in.) diameter with the presentation box (Conceived in 1955; this unique example in gold executed in 1968 by François and Pierre Hugo. This work is the first prototype of a gold plate ever made by François Hugo in collaboration with Pablo Picasso.)
PABLO PICASSO (1881-1973) Visage de faune 25cm (9 3/4in). diameter; 41.6 cm. (16 3/8in.) diameter with the presentation box (Conceived in 1955; this unique example in gold executed in 1968 by François and Pierre Hugo. This work is the first prototype of a gold plate ever made by François Hugo in collaboration with Pablo Picasso.)
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