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Françoise Gilot


Hammered for SEK 250.000 at Uppsala Auktionskammares Important Sale 13-15 June 2018

Lot 353. Françoise Gilot (France born 1921). ”Citrons”. Signed F. Gilot. Oil on canvas, 54 x 65 cm.

Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris.
Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Stockholm.
Dentist Martha Hammer (1895-?), Borås, acquired from the above.
Thence by descent to the present owner.


Françoise Gilot knew she wanted to became an artist from the age of five, and when she turned 21 she was already an accomplished painter in her own right. She was born in Paris and expressed an interest in both the arts and the sciences. Her father, who was a well-respected businessman deemed that she was to become an international lawyer but despite her father’s wish she secretly studied art instead of attending her classes in law.

When the world-famous painter Pablo Picasso first laid eyes on the young artist after meeting her at a café in the spring of 1943, he immediately fell madly in love with her.  Picasso was then 40 years her senior and one of the most celebrated artists in the world. They met during the time of Gilot’s first important exhibition in Paris and the meeting marked the beginning of a decade long relationship between the two. When Gilot met Picasso he was already a well-established artist and their circle included poets, philosopheres and writers as well as other famous artists such as Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse and Jean Cocteau.

The wonderful still-life included in this sale is a fine example of Gilot’s ability to enhance the features of ordinary objects and create intriguing compositions. Depicting a lemon tree with ripe fruit hanging over the vase, the bold yellow colour of the lemons is enticing and almost induces a feeling of gazing at them through a window. Gilot was partly inspired by the ideas of cubism when she executed “Citrons”, composing the image by bringing different views of the subjects together. However, she used the soft angles to create a sense of realism. This lovely composition painted by a true colorist relates directly to Gilot’s own artistic vision, quoted from Françoise Gilot’s, Mel Yoakum’s and Dina Vierny’s Françoise Gilot, Monograph 1940-2000: ”Each time we open our eyes, we experience a new birth. Whenever all the sensations from the external world rush towards us, tones, shapes and textures seem to fight for precedence, but in my earliest childhood remembrances, color always prevails”. “Citrons” was acquired at Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet in Stockholm and has remained in the same private collection ever since.

Even though Gilot was influenced by Picasso’s cubism during their time together, she managed to develope her own artistic style. Characterized by a preference for organic forms rather than Picasso’s frequently painted sharp angles, Gilot’s artwork is widely celebrated and include various motifs such as still-lifes, abstract paintings and portraits of her children as well as everyday life. Picasso and Gilot worked closely together and she became mother to two of his children, Claude and Paloma, both whom were portrayed extensively by their parents. In her bestselling memoir, where she tells the story about her life with perhaps the most famous artist in modern time, she recalls what Picasso once said when they had just met: ”For me there are only two kinds of women, goddesses and doormats”. Françoise Gilot was certainly no doormat and she was the only woman who truly challenged him. In 1953 she ended the relationship with Picasso and left Vallauris where they were living at that time. After returning to Paris with their two children, she continued to dedicate herself to the arts and regularly took part in exhibitions.

Françoise Gilot currently lives and works in New York and was appointed an Officer of the Legion d’Honneur in 2010, one of France’s highest distinctions.

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