Well, the quiet is broken as Sotheby’s announces the first of February’s London lots through the Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Crow. On February 5, Marina Picasso is selling a 115 works on paper and 70 ceramic pieces in a stand-alone sale at Sotheby’s.
Crow pays particular attention to the ceramics which have been strong category for several years now. Contrary to assumptions, the buyers tend to be owners of more substantial works augmenting their holdings with additional pieces rather than entry level enthusiasts.
That’s a market tell. With secondary works on canvas or sculpture already commanding exceptional prices or simply not on the market, buyers are looking for quality among ceramics and works on paper:
The combined estimate for the group is $10.5 million to $14.8 million. Last February, a collector paid Sotheby’s $1.9 million for a foot-tall terra-cotta owl figure the artist created in 1953 while staying in the town of Vallauris along France’s southeastern coast.
In June, Sotheby’s sold a group of 126 ceramics from the collection of Ms. Picasso for $2.1 million—nearly doubling its presale estimate with every piece finding a buyer, a rarity among auctions.
Notable works in the coming sale include “Woman with an Open Robe,” a tall ceramic jug Picasso created in 1955 and painted to look like a brunette whose blue gown appears to be slinking off her shoulders. It is estimated to sell for at least $52,500. An unpainted, clay figure of a “Bird” from 1957 incised with feathery markings is estimated to sell for at least $9,200.
Much of the pottery dates between the late 1940s, when the artist started experimenting with the medium, to the mid-1960s when he began working more in bronze. Yet the works on paper Ms. Picasso is selling run the entire sweep of her grandfather’s career—from his early days in Spain before he found fame in Paris to his later preparatory drawings for his marquee paintings.
According to auction-tracking firm Artnet, the average lot price for the Spaniard’s ceramics soared to $35,300 in 2015 from $16,100 in 2012.