The Sale

Impressions in Clay: Pablo Picasso Ceramics
Featuring Property From the Estate of Edgar M. Bronfman

May 2 – 17
Bid online:

This online only sale from Christie’s features 47 of Picasso’s covetable ceramics with prices beginning at $1,200. Most watched will be those 35 lots from the Estate of Edgar M. Bronfman, whose stellar art collection was passionately put together over several decades and included important pieces of impressionist, modern and contemporary art. (The most significant pieces from the Bronfman collection are set to be auctioned separately on May 7 at Christie’s New York).

The Highlights

Aside from the Bronfman collection’s ceramics, top lots include Picasso’s Tripod (estimate: $50,000-70,000) and a complete 8-piece Service Corrida set (estimate: $70,000-90,000).

Picasso and Ceramics

Picasso spent his summers on the Cote d’Azur and while in the region in 1976 he made a visit to the annual pottery exhibition at Vallauris. There, he was introduced to Suzanne and Georges Ramie, the owners of the Madoura ceramics factory, and a relationship that would see Picasso create plates and pottery for 25 years was born. Towards the end of his life, Picasso would discover yet another new medium – clay, which he found relaxing to work with during his summers in the south of France.

The Picasso Ceramics Market

Picasso ceramics are red hot (both Christie’s and Sotheby’s now dedicate sales to his plates, bowls, vases and more sculptural clay pieces) though are still considered something of a bargain compared to his paintings (Picasso always intended them to be more affordable, with some works made in editions of 500 or more).

In a report compiled in December 2013 by Artnet, the art price database concluded that the market for Picasso ceramics is “stable with a high sell-through rate around 89% (87% in 2004, 89% in 2005, 87% in 2011, and 90% in 2012).” It cited a Sotheby’s London sale on September 17, 2013 which included exceptional Picasso ceramics, 69 of which sold for a total sales revenue of US$958,000. Also mentioned in the Artnet report was a Christie’s London sale in June 2012, entirely dedicated to the Madoura Collection of Picasso ceramics, which had a 100% sell-through rate for the 500 lots in the sale, with a total sales volume of US$12,584,141.

Despite the large sums, the Picasso ceramics prices should always remain relatively affordable due to the large catalogue – he produced over 600 objects during the 25 years he worked with Madoura. Artnet also notes that “high average sales prices… 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).”