Star Lot from the Rockefeller Collection : Pablo Picasso’s Fillette à la corbeille fleurie


After introducing two masterpieces from the Rockefeller collection offered at the 19th and 20th Century Art, Conor Jordan, Deputy Chairman of Impressionist and Modern Art is going to talk about the third star lot – Pablo Picasso's Fillette à la corbeille fleurie. The painting is one of the rarest works from Picasso's Rose Period, with an estimate of US$70 million. 

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Fillette à la corbeille fleurie.

Lot no.: 15
Painted: 1905
Size: 154.8 x 66.1 cm

  • Galerie du Vingtième Siècle (Galerie Clovis Sagot), Paris (acquired from the artist).
  • Gertrude and Leo Stein, Paris (acquired from the above, 1905).
  • Gertrude Stein, Paris (acquired from Leo Stein, 1913 or 1914).
  • Estate of Gertrude Stein, Paris (1946).
  • Syndicate of The Museum of Modern Art, New York (acquired from the above, 1968).
  • Acquired from the above by the late owners, December 1968.

Estimate on Request (US$70m)

Conor Jordan|Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie

Q: When did Picasso create this painting?

Jodan: Across Pablo Picasso’s long career, there were various, different styles. This picture behind me dated from 1905 and it belonged to his so-called ‘Rose Period’. At this stage, Picasso was only around 23, 24 years old and he established himself in Paris. Rose Period is a term used to distinguish these paintings from the Blue Period that preceded it. Blue Period has a blue tonality whereas the paintings in the Rose Period have a more pastel shade. They are not necessarily all rose or pink but they have a warmer underglow. 

Picasso's painting from the Rose Period

Picasso's painting from the Rose Period

Q: Any reason why Picasso switched from Blue Period to Rose Period?

Jordan: There is no one particular, singular reason, he looked at all sort of influences around him. With the Blue Period pictures, he explored as far as he went with that style. His imagination was so fertile that he looked at other artists surrounding him but also formulated his own style.

Pablo Picasso

Q: Any famous examples from this period?

Jordan: The most celebrated picture of this period is Family of Saltimbanques. It is in the national gallery in Washington DC. It is an epic picture in a larger scale than this. A whole family of circus characters but depicted in a strange, netherworld with unclear landscape.

Family of Saltimbanques

Q:  Back to this painting, who is the female depicted in the painting?

Jordan: Subject of this picture was called Linda la Bouquetière. She was a flower seller, probably 14, 15 years old. She sold flower in a square very close to where Picasso’s studio was. She is visible in other couple of pictures around the same time. Picasso had set her up in an almost life-size picture. That is in some way an allegory of spring. She is holding flowers, which suggest fertility in classical paintings. But it is also a modern picture. The face of Linda, perhaps looks older than her years, there seems to be a lot of experiences in her face. A sense of drama, tragedy, that’s something shared by a lot of sitters, subjects in the Rose Period pictures. They were people in the margin of Parisian society or French society.

Q: Does it have other features of a ‘Rose Period’ painting?

Jordan: Picasso is also concerned with adding up poetic elements to his paintings at the time. That nuance, subtlety is also evident in the way he executed this work, which again distinguishes it from the Blue Period. Paintings from the Rose Period have thinner surfaces, more experimental surfaces, where he allowed different colours bleed through. And he allowed liquid to drip down the surfaces, in places particularly on her face, he scraped back the surfaces and painted it again, in order to give it an antique view.

Q: When did the Rockefellers buy this painting?

Jordan: It was bought directly from Picasso just weeks after he painted it by a famous collector called Leo and Gertrude Stein who established themselves in Paris at that time. Started by avant-garde, daring paintings, it was the second Picasso they owned and it stayed in the Stein family’s collection for the next decade. It was acquired by Peggy and David Rockefeller from Gertrude Stein Estate in the late 1960s so it’s only been in two collections all its lifetime.

Gertrude Stein

Peggy and David Rockefeller installed Fillette à la corbeille feurie in the library of their Manhattan residence at 146 East 65th Street

Auction details

Auction house: Christie’s New York
Sale: 19th and 20th Century Art Evening Sale
Sale date: 8/5/2018|7pm