Picasso’s Estate Stamp Signatures

Question: Concerning the debate about signatures, I would like to ask a question about the use of the Picasso signature stamp. Could you…advise when and for what occasion this stamp was used?  H.J.I.

Answer: I’ve looked back at the “IS IT SIGNED?” chapter and realized that I should add this explanation there, but I’ll also blog it here for easier access.

A word about the estate stamp signatures: After Picasso’s death, his heirs authorized the creation of a stamp of Picasso’s signature, which his printer applied to various posthumous editions.  Since there are numerous unsigned editions, it may at first seem random that some prints were selected for this treatment but not others.  A likelier explanation is that the estate-stamped prints are simply those that Picasso had not released to his dealer, Galerie Louise Leiris, for distribution and sale.  At least that is the case with Caisse à remords (Box of Remorse), a raft of 45 etchings, drypoints, and aquatints whose creation spanned many years (1919 – 1955) but that were printed in 1961. Picasso kept the edition of 50 of each of these prints in a large case but never got around to signing them.  The most significant of the series is Tête de femme (B250; see WHAT’S NOT THERE), and a personal favorite of mine is Femme torero IV (B280; see https://ledorfineart.com/B280_femme_torero.html).

An old exhibition catalogue of this series from the now defunct Reiss-Cohen Gallery (NY; 1982) included an interesting insight into the odd title of this series, in the form of a quote from M. Maurice Jardot of Galerie Louise Leiris: “From the date when the engravings…were printed in 1961 until his death in 1973, Picasso was constantly occupied with other works and took no care of signing these prints.  He felt remorse and that is why he talked frequently about the case containing these engravings, calling it “Caisse à remords.”

There are two different estates stamps that I know of.  One of them was used most of the time, for example for all of Caisse à remords as well as the 156 Series. They are beautiful and generally darker and therefore more visible than his typically graphite pencil signatures.  But they do not add nearly as much value as an authentic pencil signature does to his prints. -Kobi

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