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Chouette aux taches (Owl with spots) Vase, 1951 by Pablo Picasso

Updated: May 28, 2018

Chouette aux taches (Owl with spots) Vase, 1951; White earthenware ceramic vase with colored engobe and glaze; From the edition of 300; Inscribed 'Edition Picasso' and with the 'D'Après Picasso and Madoura Plein Feu pottery stamps on the underside; Size - Chouette aux taches (Owl with spots) Vase: 11 3/4" x 6" x 8 3/4"; Catalogue Raisonne: A.R. 120.

During the late 1940s, Pablo Picasso spent the summers on the Cote d'Azur in the South of France. There the artist visited Vallauris for the annual pottery exhibition in 1946. He was impressed by the quality of the Madoura works and was introduced to the owners, Suzanne and Georges Ramié. The Ramiés welcomed the famous artist into their workshop and gave him access to all the tools and resources the he needed in order to work in the medium of ceramics. In exchange, the Ramié family would produce and sell his limited edition ceramic works and this relationship spanned 25 years. It was also at the Madoura factory in 1953 that Picasso met Jacqueline Roque, who would become his second wife in 1961.

The Market for Picasso ceramics has been steadily rising as outlined by a recent article:

"Over the past 10 years, the market for Picasso ceramics has steadily grown, with seasoned collectors and new buyers alike vying for Picasso's editioned and unique ceramics at auction. This market is stable, with a steady high sell-through rate around 89% (87% in 2004, 89% in 2005, 87% in 2011, and 90% in 2012), and prices that are still lower than the rest of Picasso's work. The broad range of estimates and sales prices help make this market attractive to many collectors, but also explain the high average sales prices, which are skewed by a few exceptional pieces. In the previous two years, more than 60 exceptional ceramic works sold for over US$100,000: 34 in 2011 and 29 in 2012 (vs. six in 2004 and 2005)." - The Story Behind Picasso Ceramics, by Fanny Lakoubay and Conner Williams, 2013

The famed artist Georges Bloch stated of Picasso’s ceramic works:

"…in approach, material and technique is as novel as it is interesting. Pottery, gleaming white discs with relief designs, monochrome or brightly coloured ovals, dishes and even jugs and vases here serve as bearers of compositions whose themes express the joyous, life-loving side of Picasso’s work. They are printed from blocks and stamps fashioned by the master over a period of more than twenty years in the Madoura pottery workshop in Vallauris.”

From Charles Mathes's site

"In 1946 Picasso was staying near Antibes in the South of France and decorating the walls of what would become the Musée Picasso. A small owl with an injured claw that had been found in a corner ended up living with him and his lover, Francois Gilot. According to Gilot in her book “Life With Picasso” the owl was an ill-tempered creature who smelled awful and ate only mice. The owl would snort at Picasso and bite his fingers; Picasso would reply with a string of obscenities just to show the bird who was the most ill-tempered. Clearly bad manners were the way to Picasso’s heart for not only did he do a number of paintings, drawings and prints of owls, he created numerous ceramics."

Picasso would use the owl in paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, and ceramics for the rest of his life. After Picasso's death, drawings were found that illustrate that the form used for the owl ceramics had been made during the time in 1946 when the wood owl first appeared in Picasso's atelier. This is a wonderful owl vase ceramic created in 1951, and the painting of the vessel is beautifully rendered in brown, black, and cream colors. Free form brushstrokes are used to create the eyes, beak, feathered wings, tail, and feet. The owl is spotting on both sides and on the tail feathers. This is a spectacular piece of original Picasso artwork and a great addition for any art collection!

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