One of Pablo Picasso’s greatest works highlights Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Sale in London on 28 February.
Never before available at auction and expected to attract bids in excess of $50m, Femme au béret et à la robe quadrillée depicts Marie Thérèse Walter; a woman Picasso described as his ‘Golden Muse’.
Painted in 1937, the same year the artist produced Guernica, the painting dates from a moment when Picasso was still ostensibly devoted to Walter while also becoming increasing fixated with his new lover, Dora Maar.
The work depicts an element of silhouette and merging that hints at the transition that was taking place in Picasso’s love-life. As he reputed to have said: ‘It must be painful for a girl to see in a painting that she is on the way out.’
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, added: ‘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.’