Popping corks with Picasso... Rothschild 'art wine bottles' star at Bonhams



A rare collection of 59 bottles of Château Mouton Rothschild will be offered in the Fine Wine Sale on July 7 at Bonhams, New Bond Street, London. The bottles are estimated to sell for £40,000 - 50,000 ($64,000-80,000).

Spanning from 1945 to 2005, each bottle has been designed by a famous artist of the day. Until 1924, as in every vineyard in the Médoc, Château Mouton Rothschild wine was sold in casks to a merchant in Bordeaux who became responsible for maturing, bottling, labelling and marketing the wine.


Influential Spanish artist Joan Miro's trademark style can be seen here

With no rights over the finished product, the owner took little interest in the appearance of the bottle. In 1924 however, Baron Philippe de Rothschild made a decision that was revolutionary at the time, to bottle the entire harvest before it left the property.

With the Liberation of France, Baron Philippe conceived the idea of dedicating the vintage of 1945, to the "Year of the Victory".

He commissioned the young painter Philippe Julian to produce a graphic design based on the "V" sign, made famous by Winston Churchill.

From 1946 a contemporary artist has been commissioned every year to create an original work to illustrate the label. Every artist is given freedom to follow their own inspiration and interpret the themes of the vine, the pleasure of drinking or the Chateau's symbol of the Ram.

Other designs within the collection offered by Bonhams include Jean Cocteau (1947), Salvador Dali (1958), Joan Miro (1969), Marc Chagall (1970), Picasso (1973), Andy Warhol (1975)  and even Prince Charles in 2004.


Picasso was another legend to design his own bottle of Mouton Rothschild

Twice in the history of the commissioned labels, there have been two used for the same year. The first occurred in 1978, when Montreal artist Jean-Paul Riopelle submitted two designs. Baron Philippe de Rothschild liked them both so much he split the production run and used both designs.

 The 1993 label, a pencil drawing of a nude reclining nymph by the French painter Balthus, was rejected for distribution the US.

Since Baron Philippe's death in 1988, Philippine de Rothschild, the Baron's daughter, has the responsibility to choose the painter to illustrate the Mouton Rothschild label.

With wine valued highly among collectors at the moment anyway, as the market continues to grow, these fine bottles with their unique provenance would make very good investments.


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