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February 26, 2021

A painting by Pablo Picasso that has not been displayed in public in nearly 40 years will go on the block in New York this spring, and auctioneer Bonhams expects it could fetch as much as $15 million.

Femme au Béret Mauve dates back to 1937, the same year Picasso also produced Guernica and Weeping Womantwo of his best known works.

It’s an abstract portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, Picasso’s mistress and muse who served as a model for many of his paintings and sculptures throughout their decade-long relationship.

The painting has not been on the market since 1984, the year it was purchased by its current American owners from a New York gallery, Bonhams said.

Before being auctioned May 13, the work will be exhibited in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Paris, Hong Kong and New York, alongside work by artists Camille Pissarro and Raoul Dufy also for sale.

 “This bright, joyous portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter exudes stability and calm at a time when Picasso’s personal life was in turmoil and all of Europe was living under the shadow of impending war,” said Molly Ott Ambler, the head of Bonhams Impressionist, Modern, European and Modern Art in the U.S. in a statement.

The year Femme au Béret Mauve was painted, Picasso was juggling relationships with several women: his estranged wife, Olga, who refused to divorce him; Walter, also the mother of his daughter Maya; and Dora Maar, an artist who was featured in much Picasso’s work from that period. The Spanish Civil War was also in full swing and was a major influence on the often dark, dramatic work the artist completed that year, like Guernica and Weeping Woman, the latter of which Maar modeled for. Picasso’s most expensive painting, Les Femmes d'Alger, sold for $179 million in 2005, at the time the highest price fetched by artwork at an auction. 


Source: Forbes