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Picasso’s portrait of mistress to be auctioned after 20 yrs

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London, May 7 : Spanish artist Pablo Picasso’s 1932 portrait of his mistress and muse Marie Therese will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s ‘Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale’ in London on June 19.

Painted during Picasso’s ‘year of wonders’, ‘Buste de femme de profil. Femme écrivant’, a monumental, yet remarkably tender and intimate painting of Marie Therese absorbed in the act of writing, will be unveiled in public for the first time in two decades.

The estimated price of the artwork is “in the region of $45 million” (Rs 30.2 crores approx).

In the painting, his muse, who he first met in 1927 as a girl of seventeen, “awake or asleep, writing or reading, appears in manifold guises throughout Picasso’s oeuvre”, evoking a private moment from what became a decade long affair between the two.

Marie Therese’s unmistakeable profile and sweep of blonde hair are silhouetted in front of a window at the Chateau de Boisgeloup, the grand house outside of Paris acquired by Picasso in 1930.

Her sensual curves are echoed by the diffused green light emanating from the gardens beyond the window – the deliberate juxtaposition of the horizontals and verticals of the window frame with the soft curves of her body masterfully emphasising her form.

“This tender and romantic vision of Marie-Thérèse is a remarkably intimate portrait of the woman who has come to embody the heart and soul of the most celebrated year of Picasso’s oeuvre.

“‘Buste de femme de profil. Femme écrivant’ comes to auction having remained unseen in public for more than 20 years, marking the third consecutive season this year where an exceptional Picasso from the 1930s has headlined our flagship evening sale,” Helena Newman, Global Co-Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Department and Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said.

The work’s palette is characteristic of Picasso’s key depictions of Marie-Thérèse during this year.

The composition recalls both his celebrated Cubist paintings and the series of monumental sculpted heads that he created in 1931, again inspired by Marie-Thérèse.

It is the intensity and passion of the paintings from 1932 that mark them out as unique amongst the artist’s work.

Ahead of the auction, the work will also be exhibited in New York (May 4-16), Hong Kong (May 25-31), and London (June 14-19).

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