Pablo Picasso, ‘Woman Lamp’, 1955, New River Fine Art

A spectacular design with exquisite coloration, this ceramic lamp is a fascination of ambiguity. Inspired by traditional utilitarian vase designs from the south of France, this ceramic merges a classical jug with traditional vase, but has been re-engineered as a torso from which sprout swooping handles that might be arms, but are painted with ''eyes'' that create, in effect, a second face. The female, contained within the functional shapes of pitcher and vase, are strongly reminiscent of an ancient Minoan goddess figure.
In the shape of a lovely woman, the brilliantly delicate hand-coloration coupled with unique line engravings and a black/ brown scalloped design culminate in giving this lamp a life of its own. On one side of the lamp we see a female form, curved and feminine with organic, subtle features. On the opposing side of the lamp, we see her male counterpart whose masculine features are accentuated by the natural curvatures inherent in the formation of the handles on the piece. Further down toward the base of the lamp, we can make out the engraved markings of his abstracted body, whose hand-painted decorations follow the lamp around to create the female form for the figure on the other side.
On closer examination, the hand-painted design and delicate carved markings along the base and handles of the lamp are exceptional and executed with incredibly fine precision. This piece sets itself apart from others in the series by its distinct patterning in black, brown and blue.
Created in 1955, Woman Lamp comes from a limited edition of works from Picasso's Woman Lamp series by Madoura. She is a rare variant on two other ceramic lamps similar in design and hand-painted markings (see R298 and R299) however, examples of this specific piece are very scarce.

About Pablo Picasso

A prolific and tireless innovator of art forms, Pablo Picasso impacted the course of 20th-century art with unparalleled magnitude. Inspired by African and Iberian art and developments in the world around him, Picasso contributed significantly to a number of artistic movements, notably Cubism, Surrealism, Neoclassicism, and Expressionism. Along with Georges Braque, Picasso is best known for pioneering Cubism in an attempt to reconcile three-dimensional space with the two-dimensional picture plane, once asking, “Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?” Responding to the Spanish Civil War, he painted his most famous work, Guernica (1937), whose violent images of anguished figures rendered in grisaille made it a definitive work of anti-war art. “Painting is not made to decorate apartments,” he said. “It’s an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.” Picasso’s sizable oeuvre includes over 20,000 paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, theater sets, and costume designs.

Spanish, 1881-1973, Malaga, Spain, based in Paris and Mougins, France