|Absinthiana II - The Genesis of Picasso's Verre d'absinthe?
In his early years, particularly during the height of his Cubist period from 1907 to 1914, Picasso was
profoundly influenced by the publicity material he saw in the Parisian bars and cafes he frequented. A
print of Charles Maire's famous painting for Pernod Fils hung in his studio, and is reflected in several of
his most famous cubist paintings and collages.
While first hand testimony, such as that from Jean Cocteau regarding the Pernod chromo (see below), is
lacking, it seems at least possible that this newly discovered bronze publicity casting for Absinthe Junod
might have influenced the development of Picasso's 1914 Cubist sculpture "Verre d'absinthe", widely
regarded as one of his most original and influential works. The similarities are striking: both stand around
20 cm tall, both are cast bronze but incorporate a real absinthe spoon on which is affixed a bronze sugar
cube, both have a conical base rising to a vertical "Yvonne" shape. The angled facets at the bottom of the
Junod glass seem also to presage the spatial deconstruction found in Picasso's sculpture.
In a 1959 interview published in Paris Match, the
French poet and artist Jean Cocteau talked about his
lifelong friendship with Picasso. He described how a
copy of this Pernod Fils chromolithograph had hung in
Picasso's studio during the time he was creating his
early cubist masterpieces, and how Picasso had later
given it to him as a souvenir.
|At right, Picasso's 1912 "Bouteille de Pernod et verre".
A previously undocumented silver-plated cast brass model of
an absinthe glass, spoon and sugar, apparently made as a
promotional item for Absinthe Junod. Soldered to the top is a
real absinthe spoon, to which is affixed the brass sugar cube.
The worn plating at the base indicates that this item was
probably originally screwed on to a wooden base.
The cast is 18cm tall and weighs just over 3kg.
|Click to see enlarged versions.
Pablo Picasso: "Glass of Absinthe"
Paris, spring 1914. Painted bronze with perforated silver-plated absinthe spoon.
Edition of six casts by Kahnweiler, each painted separately. 21.5 x 16.5 x 8.5 cm.
From left: Metropolitan Museum New York; Musée National d'Art Moderne Paris; artist's collection (photograph by
Bressai 1943); Berggruen Collection; Philadelphia Museum of Art; private collection (sold at Sotheby's in 1990
for $2 287 817).
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