PABLO PICASSO, Verre et Fruit 1.12.44, 1944
John Richardson noted “the still life was the genre which Picasso would eventually explore more exhaustively and develop more imaginatively than any other artist in history” (John Richardson, A Life of Picasso, New York, 1991, vol. ll, p. 441). They were the favoured subjects for his early cubist works with Braque that developed a whole new artistic language and permanently redefined how we could depict the world. In the early 1930s Picasso found expression for his barely suppressed lust in the voluptuous curves and vibrant colours of his arrangements of pots and vessels and ripe fruit.
During the 2nd World War, often confined to his studio in the rue des Grands Augustins in Occupied Paris, Picasso turned again to still lives to reflect a very different mood – austere and intense, often mournful, but in this melancholy isolation creating works of restrained elegance. Throughout the battle for Paris in the summer of 1944 Picasso lived with Marie-Thérèse Walter and their daughter Maya at their home on the boulevard Henry IV. Immediately upon the German surrender and the liberation of Paris on August 25th Picasso returned to his studio on the rue des Grands Augustins where he continued to work through the winter.
‘Verre et fruit’ belongs to a series of small scale works on paper, some like ours inscribed with exactly the same day, 1st December 1944. Experimenting with highly simplified compositions of a single glass and a piece of fruit, they also included a zincograph print. In our work the water in the glass is illuminated by the pale pink glow of a winter’s afternoon that bathes the whole composition, but as night falls other works from the series take on a more menacing atmosphere as the dark shadows of brushed India ink encroach upon the central objects.
Within two months Picasso started work on the enormous 2.5m canvas, ‘Le Charnier’ (‘The Charnel House’), now in MoMA, New York. His most overtly political painting since ‘Guernica’ it was a powerful pictorial response to the emerging news of the Holocaust. As ‘Guernica’ was Picasso’s visceral reaction to the Spanish Civil War, and for him the beginning of the war years, so ‘Le Charnier’ is seen as his closing statement, marking the end of the war from which he could move on to other things.
PABLO PICASSO (Spanish 1881-1973)
Verre et Fruit 1.12.44
Signed Dated ‘1er Decembre 44’ and numbered ‘10’ on the reverse
Watercolour and gouache on paper
32.5 x 25 cm / 12.75 x 10 in
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from the Succession Picasso dated 25th June 2020, as well as a certificate from the Comité Picasso dated 24th March 1986.
Acquired directly from the artist in 1945;
The Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, 1979;
Sale: Christie’s, New York, 1984;
Waddington Galleries, London;
Private Collection, Madrid
New York, The Sidney Janis Gallery, ‘Masters in Twentieth Century Art’, October–November 1979;
London, Waddington Galleries, ‘Works on Paper’, 7 – 31 January 1987, no. 96.