Face of a faun
Vallauris, 16 October 1947
Plat long, 31.8 x 38 cm
MPB 112.462
Jacqueline Picasso donation, June 1982

Early experiments at Madoura

The large press-moulded plats longs that were regularly produced at Madoura provided Picasso with a ready format to realise his experiments, which he carried out at remarkable speed. In terms of techniques of pottery decoration, he quickly mastered his knowledge of ceramic materials. Painting with a 'blind palette' – that is, with colours that do not reveal themselves until fired in a kiln – Picasso either drew on traditional patterns and combinations or created his own sometimes improbable (from a technical point of view) inventions.

For subject matter, Picasso drew on traditional imagery, including fruits or fish in the sea, but he also populated the surfaces of his plats longs with figures and mythological scenes. The shape of the plate has an inherent analogy with a head (whether oriented vertically or horizontally), and Picasso turned many of them into heads of women or fauns.