Picasso’s early-period portrait of his muse could sell for over $60 million at Sotheby’s next month

A portrait by Pablo Picasso of his muse and lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, painted in April 1932, could top $60 million at the Modern Art Evening Sale at Sotheby’s New York next month.

large format painting, Naked woman lying, will be auctioned for the first time on May 17. The painting marks a pivotal moment in Picasso’s career and in his relationship with Walter. The two later had one child, Maya Widmaier-Picasso.

They met in 1927, when Walter was only 17 and the 45-year-old artist was still married to dancer Olga Khokhlova. It was not until 1932 that he allowed their romance to become public. Walter took center stage in his work in a series of stunning portraits, including this one depicting his young love as a sea creature. (Walter was an accomplished swimmer, while Picasso never learned.)

“When unveiled at his career retrospective in 1932, this cycle of monumental works shimmered with their ravishing, romantic and sensual depiction of Picasso’s hitherto sequestered mistress,” said Brooke Lampley, global head of Sotheby’s fine art sales, in a statement. “A radical break from tradition, this striking painting is at the same time a deeply lyrical ode to the artist’s unbridled desire for Marie-Thérèse…the portrait continues to enchant, as it perfectly captures Picasso’s muse as the expression ultimate of his genius.

The painting has been held by the consignor since 2008. Adding to the perceived value of the work, 1932 is considered the most coveted year for Picasso’s work, a annus mirabilis in which he created over 100 works, largely inspired by Walter. In 2018, the Tate Modern in London devoted an entire exhibition, “Paris 1932”, to this production. The artist turned 50 that year and was working on both his first major retrospective and his catalog raisonné.

Naked woman lying (1932). Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s New York. ” width=”1024″ height=”683″ srcset=”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/04/Pablo-Picasso-Femme-nue-couchée-1932-Exhibition-1024×683. jpg 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/04/Pablo-Picasso-Femme-nue-couchée-1932-Exhibition-300×200.jpg 300w, https://news.artnet. com/app/news-upload/2022/04/Pablo-Picasso-Nude-woman-reclining-1932-Exhibition-50×33.jpg 50w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”/>

Pablo Picasso, Naked woman lying (1932). Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s New York.

Another 1932 Picasso portrait of Walter, Woman seated near a window (Marie-Thérèse), October 30, 1932will head to Christie’s New York in May, with a high estimate of $55 million.

Picasso’s third most expensive painting at auction Nude, green leaves and bust, is a 1932 painting that sold for $106.48 million at Christie’s New York in 2010, according to the Artnet price database. Should Naked woman lying surpassing the $60 million mark, it would sit just outside the top 10 auction prices of all time for the artist.

“There were many remarkable years in Pablo Picasso’s long and dramatic career, but 1932 stands out as particularly memorable,” Julian Dawes, Sotheby’s head of modern art, Americas, said in a statement. “His portraits of Marie-Thérèse are the most desired and defining works of all his work, and Naked woman lying is one of the most exceptional ever auctioned.

Sotheby’s announcement follows a flurry of news that May will be a blockbuster auction month in New York. At Christie’s, at Andy Warhol Blow Sage Blue Marilyn (1964) carries a record estimate of $200 million. If realized, it would make it the second most expensive work of art ever sold at auction, behind that of Leonardo da Vinci. Salvator Mundiwhich sadly sold for $450.3 million in 2017.

Christie’s has also revealed it will be offering the entire estate of sibling dealers Doris and Thomas Ammann in a two-day charity sale of 100 works, poised to rival the Rockefeller Collection auction. $835 million in 2018. The auction house also hopes to raise up to $250 million for the collection of the late philanthropist Anne Bass. And the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is selling Picasso’s first Cubist sculpture, the 1909 bronze cast Head of a woman (Fernande)also at Christie’s, where it carries an estimate of $30 million.

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