Early Cubist Work by Picasso Could Fetch Over $40 Million at Sotheby’s London

It has been in private hands for over four decades.

Pablo Picasso, Femme Assise (1909). Courtesy of Sotheby's London.
Pablo Picasso, Femme Assise (1909). Courtesy of Sotheby's London.
Pablo Picasso, <em>Femme Assise</em> (1909). Courtesy of Sotheby's London.

Pablo Picasso, Femme Assise (1909). Courtesy of Sotheby’s London.

An early Cubist Pablo Picasso canvas that has been off the market for more than four decades will go to the auction block in London this summer. Femme Assise (1909) will be offered at Sotheby’s London at its June 21 Impressionist and modern art evening sale. The house tells the Financial Times it is expecting a sale in excess of £30 million (about $43.1 million).

The seller, whose identity has not been revealed, purchased the work in 1973, also at Sotheby’s London, for £340,000 (about $833,000). If the painting makes the house’s estimate, it will have increased more than fiftyfold in value.

“It is several decades since a Cubist painting of this caliber has been offered at auction, since virtually all the significant works of this period are in international museums and institutions,” Helena Newman, Sotheby’s global co-head of Impressionist and modern art told the Art Newspaper.

“This is indeed a big deal to see this early Cubist work come onto the market,” Janie Cohen, Picasso expert and director of the Fleming Museum of Art at the University of Vermont, told the TAN.

 

Pablo Picasso Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’) (1955). Courtesy of Christie's New York.

Pablo Picasso Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O) , 1955. Courtesy of Christie’s New York.

Picasso holds the record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction, set last year with the $179.4 million sale of Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O), 1955, at Christie’s New York.

According to the artnet price database, two other Picasso canvases have sold in excess of $100 million: Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (1932) at Christie’s New York in 2010 for $106.48 million, and Garçon à la pipe (1905) for $104.16 million at Sotheby’s New York in 2004. The last time an early Cubist work by the artist came to market was 1998, when Femme Nue (1909) fetched $11 million at Sotheby’s New York.

Pablo Picasso, <em>Femme Assise</em> (1909). Courtesy of Sotheby's London.

Pablo Picasso, Femme Assise (1909). Courtesy of Sotheby’s London.

Picasso painted Femme Assise, which was inspired by his lover Fernande Olivier, while in a small Spanish village called Horta de Ebro, accessible only by mule. There, Picasso further developed the revolutionary Cubist style, distorting his subject through the use of angular geometric forms, that he had begun two years before with his groundbreaking Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907).

Femme Assise will go on display at Sotheby’s locations in New York (beginning May 16), Hong Kong (May 26–30), and London (June 10–21).


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