Au Cirque by Pablo Picasso

The auction floor is heating up and our Picasso enthusiasts  are closer to his work than ever before. The first original Pablo Picasso drawing to be auctioned in South Africa, a piece titled Au Cirque, is a 1954 coloured crayon drawing by the iconic Spanish Cubist, with an estimated value of R3 to R3.5 million

This particular piece won’t be on the auction block for the first time, as its auction journey started in 1990 where it was sold for $154 000 by Sothebys, New York and again in 2006 for $240 000 at another Sothebys Impressionist sale in New York. The artwork will be on the South African auction block at the Stephan Welz & Co. Fine and Decorative Arts Sale on Tuesday 7 June, at 19h00.

Picasso’s work is iconic in terms of 20th century art – his 1955 painting Les Femmes d’Alger obtained the highest price ever paid for artwork at an auction. This piece sold for $179.4 million in a Christie’s auction in 2015 proving the worth of this caliber.

‘Au Cirque’ is part of a series of sketches by Picasso

Au Cirque

Anton Welz, an auctioneer at Stephan Welz & Co, explains that the painting is not Cubist. The drawing is one of several with the same title as a series of sketches Picasso made of activities at the circus. The drawing, depicting a topless woman, two men and a horse, featured recurring themes in Picasso’s circus sketches.

Picasso’s inspiration for these figures and other masculine characters in his piece can be traced to his Spanish childhood and his familiarity with Don Quixote – A Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes. Circus performers also signified for him the golden age of painting and allowed him to escape the limitations of contemporary subject matter.

At first glance it appeared very naive, but it worked on several planes, perspectives and depth. It’s initially simple, but in reality not that simple

Anton Welz

Public Viewing


Stephan Welz & Co. Studio in Nelson Mandela Square

Thursday 26 to Saturday 28 May

10am – 5pm

Cape Town

Cape Town at The Great Cellar, Alphen Estate, Constantia

Wednesday 1 to Sunday 5 June

10am – 5pm.

Online bidding

Anyone who will not be able to attend the auction in person will be able to bid for pieces online via and This will allow you to search catalogues and place bids over the internet in real-time, with live audio and video from the auction room.


Stephan Welz & Co. website:

Twitter: @StephanWelzCo

Facebook: Stephan Welz and Company – Fine and Decorative Arts Auctioneers



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