Pablo Picasso - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Tuesday, November 15, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Pablo Picasso’s Paysage au pin, 1953, is one of thirteen landscape (paysage) paintings executed by the artist over a period of several weeks from June 10-July 1, 1953. Termed the Transformateur series, the comprising works all depict the same view from the artist’s home at Villa la Gauloise in Vallauris, in the South of France. Picasso moved to the villa in 1948, where he enjoyed a calm, domestic period of life with Françoise Gilot and their two children. The feeling of being settled in place with a family inspired Picasso to paint his immediate environs.


    Pablo Picasso, Françoise Gilot, Claude Picasso and Paloma Picasso in the garden of La Galloise, Vallauris 1953. Image: Edward Quinn, ©
    Pablo Picasso, Françoise Gilot, Claude Picasso and Paloma Picasso in the garden of La Galloise, Vallauris 1953. Image: Edward Quinn, ©

    Three distinct visual elements occur across each painting in the Transformateur series: a house, an electric transformer, and the present work’s titular pin tree. The neutral, consistent presence of these three in each work allows Picasso’s formal expression to take center stage. With each work, Picasso takes on a new stylistic challenge; the Transformateur paintings serve as an index of the artist’s skill set, and a deconstruction of Picasso’s innovative Cubist mindset itself.

  • Works from the Transformateur series in museum collections

  • Dated June 15, 1953, Paysage au Pin falls in the first third of the series by date. The three works directly preceding or sharing its date are all in prestigious museum collections. Focusing on the pine tree, in the first work, Paysage de Vallauris [Pin et palmier], June 10, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, the simplified tree trunk unfolds naturally into bright, summery green pine needles. But four days later, in Paysage à Vallauris, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the trunk shrinks to a wizened black line; the pine needles are dark and sharp, like a cluster of holly. The next day, it is winter for the pine tree in Jardin à Vallauris, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, with its grey trunk and sticklike branches, no green needles in sight. And yet, in the present work, it is summer again, with three round, bright green shapes signifying the top of the tree. A shift from brush-led expression to geometric representation is complete.

    "This change [over the course of the Transformateur works] shows just how uninterested he is in producing a series as such, and how persistently he exploits everything a subject has to offer to his inventiveness."
    —Klaus Gallwitz

    The Cubism at play here is a deconstructed cubism; a cubism in slow motion. One can imagine layering Paysage au pin and its series mates on top of each other, each perspective angling into a cohesive, Cubist whole. Picasso’s continued interest in Cubist principles, nearly fifty years after the movement’s inception, reveals just how centrally aligned the movements tenants were with the artist’s personal practice. 


    Paul Cézanne, Paysage au toit rouge ou Le Pin à l’Estaque, 1875-1876. Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris. Image: Bridgeman Images

    With Paysage au pin and its companions, Picasso invokes a long history of innovation in painting inspired by the French landscape, especially over the course of the 19th century. The stylistic shift from Paysage à Vallauris [Pin et palmier] to Paysage du pin echoes the genre’s evolution from Théodore Rousseau and the realist Fontainebleau group, for example, to the expressive landscapes of Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne. Speaking of his landscapes, Picasso said, “my trees are myself.”i With Paysage au pin, Picasso places himself, and his distinct way of seeing, within this artistic legacy of landscape.

    i Pablo Picasso, quoted in John Richardson, A Life of Picasso, 1907-1917, The Painter of Modern Life, vol. II, New York, 1996, p. 93.

    • Provenance

      Galerie Simon, Paris
      Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (acquired in 1953)
      Curt Valentin Gallery, New York
      Christie's, London, June 30, 1967, lot 96
      Richard Feigen Gallery, Chicago (acquired at the above sale)
      Stephen Hahn Gallery, New York
      Henry and Elizabeth Blazy, Cleveland (acquired from the above on January 2, 1968)
      Christie’s, New York, May 14, 1999, lot 698
      Private Collection (acquired at the above sale)
      Martin Lawrence Galleries, San Francisco
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Curt Valentin Gallery, Pablo Picasso, 1950-1953, November 24–December 19, 1953, no. 19, n.p. (illustrated; titled as Landscape with Pine Tree)
      Cleveland Museum of Art (on extended loan, 1977–1999)
      Seoul, Opera Gallery, Le Sacre du Printemps, March 28–April 28, 2013, p. 14 (illustrated, p. 15)
      Monaco, Opera Gallery, Highlights: The Monaco Masters Show, July 5–August 31, 2013 (detail illustrated, p. 8; illustrated, p. 9); then travelled as Singapore, Opera Gallery, 20th Anniversary, April 25–May 11, 2014 (p. 18, illustrated, p. 19); then travelled as Hong Kong, Opera Gallery, Modern Masterpieces (Celebrating a Decade: Timepieces), November 13–December 4, 2014, p. 32 (detail illustrated; illustrated, p. 33)

    • Literature

      Laure Galvaire, "Les Cours des ventes - Picasso: le peintre vivant le plus cher," Connaissance des arts, no. 190, December 1967, fig. 5, p. 139 (illustrated)
      Klaus Gallwitz, Picasso Laureatus: Son œuvre depuis 1945, Geneva, 1971, no. 69, p. 66 (illustrated, p. 67)
      Klaus Gallwitz, Picasso Laureatus: Sein malerisches Werk seit 1945, Luzern, 1971, no. 69, p. 66 (illustrated, p. 67)
      Klaus Gallwitz, Picasso at 90: The Late Work, New York, 1971, p. 66 (illustrated, p. 67; titled as Landscape with Pine)
      Cleveland Museum of Art, "Annual Report for 1977," The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, vol. 65, no. 6, June 1978, p. 189
      Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso. Œuvres de 1946 à 1953, vol. 15, Paris, 1983, no. 280, p. 167 (illustrated, p. 154)
      Klaus Gallwitz, Picasso: The Heroic Years, New York, 1985, p. 66 (illustrated, p. 67; titled as Landscape with Pine)

    • Artist Biography

      Pablo Picasso

      Spanish • 1881 - 1973

      One of the most dominant and influential artists of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso was a master of endless reinvention. While significantly contributing to the movements of Surrealism, Neoclassicism and Expressionism, he is best known for pioneering the groundbreaking movement of Cubism alongside fellow artist Georges Braque in the 1910s. In his practice, he drew on African and Iberian visual culture as well as the developments in the fast-changing world around him.

      Throughout his long and prolific career, the Spanish-born artist consistently pushed the boundaries of art to new extremes. Picasso's oeuvre is famously characterized by a radical diversity of styles, ranging from his early forays in Cubism to his Classical Period and his later more gestural expressionist work, and a diverse array of media including printmaking, drawing, ceramics and sculpture as well as theater sets and costumes designs. 

      View More Works

Property of an Esteemed Private Collector


Paysage au pin

signed "Picasso" lower left; dated "15 juin 53" on the reverse
oil on canvas
15 x 21 3/4 in. (38.1 x 55.2 cm)
Painted on June 15, 1953.

Full Cataloguing

$1,200,000 - 1,800,000 

Sold for $1,482,000

Contact Specialist

Amanda Lo Iacono
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+1 212 940 1278

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 15 November 2022