Picasso’s Muse Portrait Created in the Same Year as Guernica to Be Exhibited in Hong Kong

Sotheby’s announces its coming Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, scheduled to be held in London on 28 February, will be led by a powerful portrait of Picasso’s golden muse.

The star lot of the sale, Femme au béret et à la robe quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter), has been kept in private hands since the artist’s death in 1973. It is the first time the painting being offered at auction. It has been out of the public eye for a long time, except being lent for a 2013 show in Málaga and a 1986 exhibition in Basel.

Pablo Picasso's Guernica

The work was painted in 1937, a pivotal moment of Picasso’s career. It was the same year he created 'Guernica', the artist's famous anti-war work representing the horror of Nazi's bombing during the Spanish Civil War.

Marie-Thérèse Walter

Picasso and Dora Maar

Femme au béret et à la robe quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter) charts Picasso's evolving relationship with his muse Marie-Thérèse Walter, whom he was ostensibly still devoted at the time, and the increasingly dominant presence of his new lover Dora Maar. 

Femme Ecrivant (Marie-Therese)

Le Rêve (Marie-Therese)

In Picasso’s paintings, Marie-Thérèse is typically portrayed with curved lines whereas Maar is often depicted in an angular and diamond-shaped face.

This present lot appears to have been used as a means for exploring his feelings for the two women. There is a conscious blurring of styles inspired by the two muses, reaching its pinnacle in the silhouetted 'other' that emerges from behind the main subject. Whether the shadow represents Maar or indeed a self-portrait, the implication is that of duality and conflict. Picasso is quoted: "It must be painful for a girl to see in a painting that she is on the way out".

The travelling exhibition of the sale highlights will make the first stop in Hong Kong, before heading to Taipei, New York and London. The art industry has seen strong appetite for big names of 20th century in Asian region, with Picasso ranking top on the wishlist of Asian collectors. The estimate of the painting is upon request but it is reported to be around £36.5m (US$50m). 

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Femme au béret et à la robe quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter).

Auction house: Sotheby’s London
Sale: Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale
Auction date: 2018/2/28|7pm
Travelling exhibition:
Hong Kong| 2018/1/30 - 2/2
New York|2018/2/12-14

Size: 55 x 46cm
Created in: 4 December 1937

  • Property from a Distinguished Private Collection

Estimate upon request