Picasso portrait depicting his young mistress could sell for over €113 million at auction

A visitor looks at Pablo Picasso’s painting 'Femme à la montre' displayed for viewing at Sotheby’s Dubai on September 25, 2023.
A visitor looks at Pablo Picasso’s painting 'Femme à la montre' displayed for viewing at Sotheby’s Dubai on September 25, 2023. Copyright Credit: AFP
By Theo FarrantAFP
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button
Copy/paste the article video embed link below:Copy to clipboardCopied

The 1932 oil painting will be the focal point of a two-day auction event at Sotheby's in New York in November, featuring artworks from the Emily Fisher Landau collection.


The art world is buzzing with anticipation as a stunning masterpiece by Pablo Picasso, titled "Femme a la montre," has been unveiled in Dubai as part of a pre-auction tour. 

Coinciding with the 50 year anniversary since the legendary artist's death, the work is being made available in November as part of a two-day sale featuring the late New Yorker Emily Fisher Landau's renowned art collection.

The artwork, which measures 130 x 96.5 centimetres, depicts Picasso's lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, who featured in many of his portraits and is often referred as the Spanish painter's "golden muse". 

It's expected to fetch at least $120 million (€113.3m). 

"The world record at auction for Picasso, which was achieved in 2015, is $179 million. I think this auction has all the potential in the world to exceed that," reveals Julian Dawes, Head of Impressionist & Modern Art in New York for Sotheby's

The story of Picasso and his "golden muse"

Credit: AP Photo / Wikimedia Commons
Pablo Picasso pictured left, his "golden muse" Marie-Thérèse Walter pictured rightCredit: AP Photo / Wikimedia Commons

On 8 January 1927, Walter met Picasso in front of the Galeries Lafayette in Paris when she was just 17 years old. 

Picasso approached her and said, "You have an interesting face. I would like to do a portrait of you. I am Picasso". He invited her to his studio a few days later. 

Their daily meet ups eventually led to a secret romantic relationship, even though Picasso was married to his first wife Ukrainian ballet dancer Olga Khokhlova at the time, with whom he had a young son.

This affair remained concealed until 1935.

In a dramatic turn of events in September 1932, Walter nearly drowned in a kayaking accident on the river Marne, leading to a viral infection and hair loss. In response, Picasso created the painting "The Rescue" in November, depicting a woman being saved from drowning.

The true nature of Picasso's relationship with Walter became clear in October 1932 when a major retrospective of his work took place at the Galeries Georges Petit, which prominently featured nude portraits of Walter, including iconic pieces like "The Dream" and "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust."

Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Le Rêve (The Dream), 1932 by Pablo PicassoCredit: Wikimedia Commons

In 1934, Walter informed Picasso she was pregnant on Christmas Eve and that he was the father. 

Picasso rented a nearby house for her when she left the family apartment, leading Khokhlova to leave him and move to the South of France with their son, Paulo. 

Although they never divorced, they lived separately until Khokhlova's death in 1955, with Picasso providing her a substantial allowance.

On 5 September, 1935, Picasso and Walter welcomed their daughter, María de la Concepción, known as "Maya," in Boulogne-Billancourt. 

They resided in the South of France until 1937 when they moved to Le Tremblay-sur-Mauldre, near Versailles. Picasso visited on weekends and weekdays to spend time with his daughter and used Maya as a model for some of his paintings. 

During this time, Picasso was involved with other women, including Alice Paalen and Valentine Hugo.

Check out the video above for a closer look at the stunning portrait.

Video editor • Theo Farrant

Share this articleComments

You might also like