EVANSVILLE – Evansville Museum leaders plan to sell a work of glass art by Pablo Picasso that sat unnoticed in storage for nearly 50 years and was only recently determined to be genuine.
The museum’s board of trustees decided to allow New York auction house Guernsey’s sell the artwork – titled Seated Woman with Red Hat – because of the costs to display, secure, preserve and insure the piece, board President Steven Krohn told the Evansville Courier & Press on Wednesday.
The layered, fired-glass piece was donated to the museum in 1963. It was cataloged as art inspired by a design for a Picasso painting and credited to another artist named Gemmaux, museum officials said. The supposed artist’s name turned out to be the plural for gemmail – the type of glass used in the work.
Nothing in the accompanying documentation would have alerted Siegfried Weng, the museum’s director in 1963, that Picasso had created it, current museum director John Streetman said.
Its light cord was cut or broken, so we’re not even sure Siegfried Weng ever even saw it, Streetman said.
The donation sat in storage for a half-century before Guernsey’s found records of the donation and made an inquiry. Krohn said it isn’t known how much the piece could be worth.
Guernsey’s has been very clear to us that we are not to discuss prices or even a price range, Krohn said. That sort of information could get out and have an impact on the possible sale.
Picasso is believed to have made about 50 such glass works between 1954 and 1956. The colors in the piece – which is 36 inches high, 28 inches wide and 3 inches thick – are only visible when illuminated from behind.
The piece is now in a secure location and the museum might put together a display telling the story of its role with the artwork, Krohn said. The provenance of this piece is priceless, Krohn said. It’s such a compelling narrative.
The museum has five other works by Picasso on paper, two of which are on display now.