Lord & Lady Attenborough’s celebrated private collection of Picasso ceramics sold for £3,080,875 at Sotheby’s in London. The ‘White Glove’, -100% sold – sale soared over its pre-sale estimate of £1.5 million. All 67 lots were pursued by multiple bidders, each one achieving prices above the high estimate. The top lot was the large scale ‘Grand vase aux femme nues’, which sold for £728,750 and established a new auction record for a ceramic of this subject.
In many ways Lord & Lady Attenborough were pioneers, appreciating Picasso’s creative ingenuity with the medium of fire clay soon after the artist began producing ceramics. Lord Attenborough’s astute understanding of Picasso’s body of work in ceramics has been widely lauded; he understood that Picasso created these pieces with the same innovative passion as his paintings, sculptures and prints. Actively building a collection that was unique for its time – beginning in 1954 with a souvenir ashtray purchased for £3 – Lord & Lady Attenborough spent the next 50 years acquiring many different examples of the ceramic editions. The well-loved and respected late actor, director and producer recounted how every summer, he and Sheila took their children on holiday to a pension in the South of France. A casual visit to the Madoura pottery in the town of Vallauris – where Picasso began working in 1949 – developed into a annual event when, on or around August 29, they would drive to the studio to choose his birthday present.