In the world of art auctions, there are moments that make collectors and enthusiasts alike hold their breath in anticipation. One such moment is fast approaching as Pablo Picasso’s 1934 masterpiece, ‘Femme à la Montre,’ is poised to make waves at the upcoming fall auction, with an estimated price tag of approximately $120 million USD. This iconic painting, a testament to Picasso’s brilliance, is not just a work of art but a piece of history.
During the creation of ‘Femme à la Montre,’ Picasso was in the throes of an iconoclastic period in his illustrious career. The muse behind this captivating artwork was none other than Marie-Thérèse Walter, a French model who shared an intense and clandestine affair with the artist from 1927 to 1935. It’s important to note that during this tumultuous period, Picasso was still legally bound to his first wife, Olga Khokhlova, a Russian-Ukrainian dancer. The secrets surrounding his passionate liaison with Walter became emblematic of his art, leading to the eventual dissolution of his first marriage. This transformation coincided with Picasso’s first retrospective exhibition at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris, marking a pivotal moment in his career.
Julian Dawes, the Head of Impressionist & Modern Art for the Americas at Sotheby’s, aptly describes Picasso’s ‘Femme à la Montre’ as a masterpiece in every sense. Painted in 1932, this artwork reflects Picasso’s newfound sense of liberation as he unburdens himself from the weight of his secret affair. The canvas radiates with vibrant primary colors and exquisite forms, meticulously attended to in every detail. The composition, as Dawes notes, is a delicate balance between complexity and harmony.
Sotheby’s New York is the chosen stage for this momentous event. ‘Femme à la Montre’ will share the limelight with a magnificent collection from the esteemed art collector and philanthropist, Emily Fisher Landau. This collection includes other remarkable pieces such as Georgia O’Keeffe’s ‘Pink Tulip’ (1926), Ed Ruscha’s ‘Securing the Last Letter’ (1964), and Mark Tansey’s ‘Triumph Over Mastery II’ (1987). The evening auction, titled ‘The Emily Fisher Landau Collection: An Era Defined,’ is scheduled to take place at Sotheby’s New York from November 8 to 9.