Centaure, 1961-67 by Pablo Picasso
Five-and-a-half inches (14.2 cm) in height this beautiful but simple model of a centaur has been cast in 18-carat gold. It is one of a limited edition of ten, executed over a six-year period, and bears the goldsmith's mark of Francois and Pierre Hugo. It is not known if these precious objects were private gifts, but it is interesting that the move into gold came in Picasso's 80th year, a celebrated event, and the year of his marriage to Jacqueline.
The ancient Greek Homeric figure sees a return to Picasso's pictorial quest into mythology, a feature from many of his 1950s studies in ceramics. This wonderful golden statue ironically reverses the process as the traditional three-dimensional aspect of modelling is reduced to two-dimensional linear relief by employing the thin piped effect of the gold. However, despite the simplicity of line, Picasso captures the dynamic action of this half-horse, half-man brilliantly. The inclusion of its phallic extra 'leg', a favorite ancient Greek fertility device, continues the artist's 'man as beast' theme as well as emphasizing the centaurs' drunken brawl at a wedding.