PICASSO'S WEEPING ‘GOLDEN’ MUSE MAKES AN INCREDIBLE £49.8M AT SOTHEBY'S LONDON
We were overjoyed to have visited Sotheby’s Evening Sales of Impressionist & Modern Art and Surrealist Art at Sotheby’s London on 28th February 2018, with sales totalling a £136,001,500 (est. £101.7-126.4m) across thirty-six lots. In an intense and thrilling auction lead by Sotheby's Helena Newman, 64% of the lots sold for prices over their pre-sale high-estimates, with an average lot value of £3.8m.
The night was led by Pablo Picasso’s Femme au Béret et à la Robe Quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter), which was competed for by three keen bidders to sell for £49.8m / $69.2m / €56.7m –the highest price for any painting sold at auction in GBP. Painted just months after Guernica (1937) and his Weeping Women, this appeared at auction for the first time, having remained in the same distinguished private collection since it left the artist’s estate.
A painting of heightened psychological intensity, Pablo Picasso’s Femme au béret et à la robe quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter) brings to a climax a turbulent and highly charged year. The painting features sharp cubistic edges, thick paint and black outlines - resulting in an immediate and striking visual impact.
The beginning of the decade marked a period of sublime happiness for Picasso, as witnessed in the extraordinarily sensual and lyrical paintings of Marie-Thérèse in 1932. The women of Picasso’s life are of huge significance within his art work - essential to his creative and intellectual processes as an artist.
Picasso's Weeping Women: Who were they and why were they so sad?
- Femme au Béret et à la Robe Quadrillée appears to have been used as a means for exploring his feelings for not one, but two important women in his life: Marie-Thérèse Walter (whom he was devoted to) and Dora Maar, a new lover.
- Two artistic styles are consciously blurred, inspired by the two romantic muses. This reaches its pinnacle in the dark, arguably foreboding silhouette that emerges from behind the figure in the forefront. Is the figure Maar or a self-portrait of Picasso himself? Duality and conflict are heavily implied.
- Is the painting communicating a message to a lover? Picasso said: ‘It must be painful for a girl to see in a painting that she is on the way out’.
- The depiction of Marie-Thérèse has matured from the voluptuous curves and sleepy, passive suggestiveness to the woman who gave birth to Picasso’s child. The portrait suggests that Marie-Thérèse continued to be of central importance to the artist.
Helena Newman, Global Co-Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department & Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said: ‘With such a strong appetite for Picasso’s work from across the globe, this defining portrait from a pivotal year in the oeuvre of the most globally recognised artist is the perfect piece to headline our first major season of 2018. It is all the more remarkable to be able to offer a painting of this calibre that has never been seen on the market before.’
Thomas Bompard, Head of Sotheby’s London Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sales, said: ‘One of the greatest portraits by Picasso to appear on the market in recent years, this depiction of Marie-Thérèse from the 1930s – painted in the same year as Guernica and the Weeping Women – reveals Picasso’s mastery of the modern portrait. Of all of the artist’s styles and decades, this is the one that most epitomises the legacy of Picasso as a portraitist of women – with this particular painting encompassing all of the key elements for which he is recognised and celebrated. It undoubtedly represents what is most desirable for a connoisseur and collector of modern art.’
Patti Wong, Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, said: ‘We are privileged and very excited to be unveiling this exceptional portrait by Picasso, first in Hong Kong and Taipei before it travels on.’