INSCRIBED BY PICASSO IN RED AND BLUE CRAYON TO THE PHOTOGRAPHER, CECIL BEATON: “pour Cecil Beaton. Ami Picasso 9.6.65.”.
Cecil Beaton (British, 1904 -1980) photographed virtually every prominent person in public life over the course of his career, which spanned more than half a century. Everyone from the Queen to the Rolling Stones sat before his lens. As an arbiter of glamor, the opportunity to sit for Beaton represented the pinnacle of success for many, but in some cases it was Beaton who pursued the sitter, and he had followed Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881 - 1973) long before they first met.
As one of the foremost artists of the twentieth century, Picasso was sought after by many who wanted to rub elbows with success. He became one of those whom Beaton photographed several times over a period of many years, first at the rue de la Boetie in Paris in 1933, then at the rue Augustins in 1944, and finally at Mougin in the south of France in 1965. (Vickers). In addition to taking photographs, Beaton wrote about Picasso in his private diary, sketched his portrait, and after the 1965 sitting wrote a profile of Picasso for Vogue Magazine.
Photographs from Picasso’s home in the hills above Mougin reveal a close bond between the two men. Here they appear relaxed, comfortable with one another, and with a gleam in their eyes. By then Picasso was 84 years old and still painting late into the nights. Writing in Vogue, Beaton describes Picasso’s energy as he gave Beaton a tour of the sprawling studio crowded with paintings, some still wet with paint and others from decades before.
Beaton wrote of Picasso’s welcome: “Pablo said ‘It has been twenty years since I last saw you!’ A golden Picasso threw open his arms. ‘After so long we must embrace.’” The two then made much fun about the passage of years and how they had aged. (Beaton). A clear sign of affection, Picasso inscribed select prints and dedicated them to Beaton. Picasso writes in red and blue crayon on this print: pour Cecil Beaton. Ami Picasso 9.6.65. The print stands as testament to the kinship between the two artists.
Provenance: With stamp “From the Beaton Studio / Sotheby Parke Bernet” on verso (sold, Sothebys Parke Bernet, 1978). Also with stamped notation “1/1” possibly indicating that this is a unique print. We have not been able to locate any others.
Silver gelatin print. Signed, inscribed and dated by Pablo Picasso “pour Cecil Beaton / Ami / Picasso 9.6.65” in red and blue ink (recto). Image: 111⁄4 x 73⁄4 in. (28.5 x 19.6 cm.); sheet: 111⁄2 x 91⁄4 in. (29.2 x 23.4 cm.). Majestically framed to an overall size of 24 x 19.5 in. Small abrasion evident to the right of Beaton’s left ear; otherwise fine.
Vickers, Hugo, ed. Cecil Beaton: Portraits & Profiles. London: Frances Lincoln, 2017. P 152.
Beaton, Cecil. “Golden Picasso” Vogue Magazine, volume 146, November 15, 1965.
Price: $20,000 .