Picasso, Walter, Paintings, work of art, Auction

Picasso painting portraying his mistress set to sell for over $120 million

A Picasso masterpiece entitled “Femme à la montre” is set to realize more than $120 million at auction this fall.

The 1932 oil painting will take center stage at a two-day event at Sotheby’s in New York in November when the collection of Emily Fisher Landau goes on sale.

The piece measures 51¼ x 38 inches (130 x 96.5 centimeters) and depicts Picasso’s lover and “golden muse” Marie-Thérèse Walter.

Picasso first met Walter in Paris in 1927 when she was 17 years old and he was still married to his first wife, Olga Khokhlova, a Russian-Ukrainian ballet dancer. Walter eventually became the inspiration for some of his most sought-after canvases, drawings, and sculptures.

Subsequently, Picasso found it increasingly difficult to hide his feelings for Walter from his work. He finally ended his marriage.

 “Femme à la montre” was painted in August 1932, soon after the retrospective at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris ended.

According to Sotheby’s, “the sense of release from keeping secrets about his affair seems to have spilled out onto this extraordinary canvas, in which he gives full painterly rein to new-found freedoms, drenching the painting in strong primary colors and beautiful forms, while at the same time paying careful attention to every small detail, creating a composition that is both intensely complex and deeply harmonious.”

Picasso eventually died in 1973, and Walter in 1977.

The painting is one of about 120 from the collection of Fisher Landau, a world-renowned contemporary art collector who died earlier this year aged 102, according to The Art Newspaper.

Picasso’s portraits of Walter have become highly sought-after, with his other 1932 works “Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse),” selling for $103.41 million in 2021, and “Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust,” selling for $106.5 million in 2010. In May 2015, Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version “O”) also sold at Christie’s in New York for $179.4 million. At that time, it was the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction.

In 2023, Picasso’s most curious painting of Walter, in which she appears as a tentacled sea creature, sold for $67.5 million at Sotheby’s in New York.


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