Picasso Gold Medallions

We have recently made a large investment in the purchase of a group of Picasso gold medallions:
These were made with a loop for suspension and designed to be used as jewellery. How wonderful for a beautiful lady in a splendid ball gown to accompany her outfit with such a treasure!

Many people, even those knowledgable about the great artist and his works, are not aware of the series of Silver plates, gold plates and gold medallions which were originally made by the artist, in conjunction with the noted goldsmith, Francois Hugo, in the 1950’s. The existence of these was, for many years, unknown to only a small circle of connoisseurs and friends.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s Picasso was introduced to Francois Hugo by the noted art collector, Douglas Cooper. Picasso commissioned the well known Goldsmith to create a series of patters, dishes and medallions in gold and silver to be made after original models and designs he himself had made. Each design was individually selected , designed, seen , approved and cherished by the artist himself during his own lifetime. When Picasso took delivery of these works he intended to keep them himself and they were never intended for resale. It was not until 1967 that he authorised Francois Hugo to make small numbered editions available to collectors. It can be seen that the lack of publicity or published material made the existence of these exquisite items virtually unknown for a long time.

The Medallions were made in very Limited editions of just 20 numbered copies. In addition to those two artists proofs and 8 “Hors Commerce” examples were made. A total edition, in the world, of just 30 examples makes these items satisfyingly rare and covetable!

The designs Picasso made were for these, for the most part, replicated in his ceramics made during the same period. Needless to say a small design on a large gold medal has a totally different look to what it would have on a larger ceramic item. Each medallion is stamped on the back with:

  1. The signature stamp of Pablo Picasso
  2. The blindstamp of Master Pierre Hugo (The son of Francis who worked together with him)
  3. The Hallmark of 1st Title de la Guarantee de Marseille
  4. The Edition number
  5. The reference number of Ateliers Hugo: 1406

Our collection of Medallions are all supplied in the boxes of issue together with Certificates of Authenticity supplied by the Atelier Hugo. They are not uniform in size and weight but generally they measure about 2 inches in diameter and weigh something like 26 grams of pure 23 Carat gold. They are beautifully manufactured and glisten spectacularly under artificial light!

There have been several publications over the years relating to these works:

  • In 1977 the Galerie Matignon, Paris, made an exhibition of silver plates and Douglas Cooper , the well known Picasso associate and collector, wrote the forward to “Picasso, 19 plats en argent”.
  • Clare Finn write a PhD Thesis on the collaboration between Hugo and Picasso.
  • In 2001 Les Cypres Editeur - Published a book entitled “Bijoux d’artistes” dealing with the generic work of Francois Hugo and his son in working with a number of different artists. This had a number of essays amongst which was one by Clare Finn.
  • We understand that Clare Finn is in process of writing a catalogue raisonne detailing the collaboration between Picasso and Hugo hopefully to be published shortly. This definitive work will finally put these Masterpieces in gold and silver on the map!

It is our belief that these rare and collectible objects will prove to be an excellent investment. This will happen especially as interest is directed towards a hitherto less than well known body of works by the imminent publication of Clare Finn’s Catalogue Raisonne.

Niall Fairhead

February 2021