Pablo Picasso was born, in Spain, on 25 October 1881. He was renowned for working in a large variety of styles and was a major influence on art in the 20th century. He died, in France, on 8 April 1973.
“Les Noces de Pierrette” (English: “The Marriage of Pierrette”) was painted, by Picasso, in 1905. The years 1904 to 1906 are commonly called his Rose Period; however, this piece is reminiscent of works completed during his, earlier, Blue Period (1901 to 1904).
At this time he mainly painted morose looking subjects, in gloomy hues of blue and green. A style of painting that was influenced, at least in part, by the death of a friend, Carlos Casagemas.
Casagemas was Spanish art student, who moved to Paris, from Barcelona, with Picasso. Shortly after the move, he committed suicide. Following this tragedy, Picasso suffered from severe depression, which was to last until 1904.
“Les Noces de Pierrette” depicts six figures, the groom, his bride, a Harlequin and three indistinct characters. They are pictured, gathered around two tables. The clown is bowing and blowing a kiss to the veiled bride, to the obvious annoyance of the groom.
The murky, blue, green colouring of the work makes it difficult to see the subjects in detail. However, Picasso manages to convey the impression that the groom is not at ease with the situation, whereas the bride seems to be enjoying the attention.
It appears that the bride has entered into a loveless marriage, with a wealthy man. In doing so, she has forsaken her previous lover, the Harlequin.
Two figures sit at the other table, a man with his arm around a woman. This couple appears almost ghost-like, with white emotionless faces and black eyes.
The final figure is a woman, in a blue dress, sitting with her back to the viewer. She is looking towards the Harlequin.
The painting gives the impression that this marriage ceremony is a depressing and joyless affair.
Experts say that this is an autobiographical painting. Picasso is represented by the Harlequin, and the bride represents all women. The clown is bitter that he has been spurned, for a rich and powerful man. The woman with her back turned represents an old flame of the artist, who is not remembered fondly.
This painting is considered to be among Picasso’s most important works, because of its style and theme. It was, also painted on an unusually large canvas, over six feet wide.
The sales history of “Les Noces de Pierrette," is a chequered one.
It was originally owned by Picasso’s son, Paulo, and little was seen of the work for many years. It then became the property of Paulo’s lawyer, who, on his death, left it to his nephew. In 1988 it was purchased, from the nephew, by Swedish art collector Fredrik Roos, who paid approximately $3.3 million for the work.
In November 1989, Roos put the painting up for auction. It sold for $51,670,000, making it the most expensive work, sold at auction, at the time. It was purchased by a Japanese real estate developer, Tomonori Tsurumaki.
Unfortunately, his company collapsed the following year, and the painting became the property of Lake Credit Company. They subsequently sold their loan business to GE Capital. Included in the deal were 500 paintings, including “Les Noces de Pierrette."
In 2015 the painting was discovered to be housed in the art collection of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.