An art history of Château Mouton Rothschild wine labels, from Lucian Freud and Niki de Saint Phalle to Peter Doig
We take a closer look at Château Mouton Rothschild’s 2020 vintage label by Peter Doig and look back on the wine house’s fruitful history of artist-designed labels
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Heritage wine estate Château Mouton Rothschild has unveiled its original artwork label for the 2020 vintage, which has been created by Scottish-born artist Peter Doig.
For the label, unveiled on 1 December 2022, Doig drew on the visual legacies of Cézanne and van Gogh to create a dreamscape of music, reverie and wine production. The painting depicts a figure playing the guitar (a nod to Doig’s Trinidadian friend, an artist known as Embah who played a cuatro - a four-string guitar - to one of the artist’s Paris exhibition openings) against a nocturnal vineyard backdrop.
As Doig said of the label, ‘The painting shows something of what goes on behind the scenes in the production of wine, what happens offstage, as it were. It’s a sort of ode to workers, to all those involved at the various stages of making a wine before it’s finally bottled. It’s a dream with a romantic streak, as if someone spontaneously decided to sing in the vines. It’s a moment of poetry, where you can take your time. It’s neither really day nor really night, but rather something in between, between waking and sleeping. It is possible to see it as a progression, a dream journey in the world of the harvest.’
Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild, co-owner of Château Mouton Rothschild, who oversees the estate’s artistic and cultural activity said, ‘We wanted an artist who uses canvas and pictorial material to express figurative subjects. Unrivalled as a colourist, Peter Doig focuses entirely on painting and has become one of his generation’s foremost exponents of the discipline.’
Peter Doig’s artwork is the latest in a long history of art labels designed for Château Mouton Rothschild wines. Since 1945, the label for each vintage of Château Mouton Rothschild has been illustrated by a leading artist. The list reads like a roll call of art history in the 20th and 21st centuries, including Olafur Eliasson, William Kentridge, David Hockney, Lee Ufan, Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, Lucian Freud, Niki de Saint Phalle, Francis Bacon, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Dorothea Tanning. We look back on some of the most notable creations.
Château Mouton Rothschild: a fruitful history of artist-designed labels
Philippe Jullian - 1945
To commemorate the allied victory and the end of World War Two in 1945, Baron Philippe de Rothschild commissioned then-unknown artist illustrator, art historian, biographer, and novelist Philippe Jullian to create a label illustration that would symbolise, and celebrate victory, and the return of peace to the world.
Marc Chagall - 1970
Rather than the embodied wine, Jewish-French modernist Marc Chagall focused on the living fruit of the vine for his design, captured in a flood of vivid colour and an encounter between mother and child.
David Hockney - 2014
David Hockney's design serves as a personal tribute to his friend, the late Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, who passed away in 2014. It depicts two glasses: one empty, one full, symbolising expectation and the cyclical nature of wine production, rendered in Hockney's signature bold colour and spirited lines.
William Kentridge - 2016
Kentridge's design, a joyous procession of silhouetted figures, draws on the use of Bacchic characters in the work of artists such as Matisse and Titian. Like the subject of his work, Kentridge alludes to how great wine is also inextricable from its tradition, which must be appreciated, and respected.
Annette Messager - 2017
Annette Messager is best known for potent work that combines symbolism, realism and feminism. Her label, titled Hallelujah, drew on two symbolic biblical forces: milk and wine, spotlighting the importance of each.
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Harriet Lloyd-Smith is the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.
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