JOE ROSSON; ABOUT ANTIQUES; Earthenware Plaque Appears to Be Picasso Original

Article excerpt

Dear Mr. Rosson:

I am enclosing photographs of a Picasso ceramic plaque in hopes you can give me some information. Is the plaque authentic and what do you estimate its value to be? It is marked "Empreinte Originale de Picasso, Madoura plein feu and 218/500.

Thank you for your help H. M. Dear H. M.:

More than 95 percent of the Picasso items I see each year are fakes or reproductions, and it is very refreshing to be asked about a piece that appears to be absolutely genuine.

I wish that H. M. had told me the size of this plaque because that would have been helpful. However, this piece should be fairly small - approximately 6 1/2 by 4 inches. If it is not, "Houston, we have a problem."

I certainly do not need to do a big song and dance about Pablo Picasso (1881 -1973), who some view as the most influential artist of the 20th century. Instead, I am going to limit myself to a short discussion of his involvement with the Madoura Pottery, which is located in Vallauris in the south of France.

This small city is also called Vallauris Golfe-Juan and is located on the Bay of Cannes near the town of Antibes. In July 1946, Picasso visited engraver Louis Fort at Golfe-Juan, and together they attended the annual pottery exhibition at Vallauris.

Reportedly, Picasso became interested in the work being exhibited by the Madoura Pottery. The famous artist was introduced to Suzanne and Georges Ramie, who took him to the Madoura workshop, where Picasso made three pieces that he left to dry and to be fired in the kiln.

Picasso did not return for a year, but when he did, he was shown the items he had previously made. Picasso asked that a portion of the Madoura workshop be set aside for his use, and Suzanne Ramie taught him the tricks of the ceramics trade. …