Rare book featuring 37 Picasso engravings to be put up for auction
A rare piece of art history has gone on display in Warsaw.
The book Carmen, by Prosper Mérimée, which includes 37 engravings by Pablo Picasso, many of which are signed by the famous Spaniard is expected to sell for between 30,000 and 60,000 PLN when it goes up for auction later this month.
The book was a gift to Picasso’s friend Stanisław Dawski, who was also a renowned artist.
They met initially when Picasso attended the World Congress of Intellectuals in the Defence of Peace in Wrocław in 1948 but developed a lasting friendship and met on numerous occasions.
The book, number 106 of 320, is not bound or stapled so all the sheets may be removed and observed simultaneously, the marble slipcase cover does have some wear but the etchings are in pristine condition.
The 37 illustrations do not correspond with text but rather serve to complement Mérimée’s work.
The minimalist pieces show a master conveying his vision in an economic fashion, sharp defining lines and sweeping curves.
Some of the etchings fill empty space on a half used page while others take a whole page for themselves.
The smaller etchings maybe best characterised as doodles while the larger pieces are mainly of faces or heads.
One circular face has all the features concentrated in the centre of the page, a comparable piece has the features spread at much more familiar positions.
The faces are not all circular or oval, some are square whilst others are better characterised as more animalistic than human.
Picasso was a prolific artist and tried his hand at many forms of art, including poetry and he even wrote two plays.
It is estimated that he created over 50,000 pieces of art during his lifetime including about 1,900 paintings, 1,200 sculptures and he illustrated many books.
Picasso may be known to many as the co-founder of cubism but art historians recognize several distinct periods of his work including his blue period, his rose period and his surrealism.
Stanisław Dawski, who the book was gifted to, was one of the original staff at the Eugeniusz Geppert Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław where he would later go onto to be not only a professor but the rector.
He may have found inspiration in Picasso’s gift as he later produced drawings in a similar fashion such as ‘Twarz’ and his series KOBIETA (WOMAN).
The limited edition book goes up for auction on May 19th with DESA Unicum, the oldest auction house in Poland.