Picasso’s “Nature morte à la tête classique et au bouquet de fleurs” will be offered as part of the auction house’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale in New York City.
This work on paper was created in 1933 while Picasso was on holiday in Cannes with his wife Olga and his young son Paolo.
During his sojourn in France, the Spanish artist did not create a single painting, focusing his creative energy on a series of colourful gouaches and watercolours that called on classical legends such as that of Pygmalion and Persephone.
While his personal life was in disarray, Picasso reflected in his work on the traditional embodied interaction of artist and model, which he replaced with sculpted avatars in “Nature morte à la tête classique et au bouquet de fleurs”.
In place of the artist is a bearded neo-classical bust, while the model is substituted by a bas-relief sculpture of Picasso’s new mistress and principal muse, Marie-Thérèse Walter.
“Nature morte à la tête classique et au bouquet de fleurs” will now hit the auction block for the first time in more thirty-five years, after being once held in the private collection of the renowned Surrealist poet Edward James.
Sotheby’s estimates that this vibrant gouache will sell for between $5 and $7 million — a modest pre-sale estimate compared to Picasso’s current auction record of $115 million set in May 2018 for “Young Girl with a Flower Basket.”
“Nature morte à la tête classique et au bouquet de fleurs” will go under the hammer on November 12 during Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale in New York, alongside masterpieces by René Magritte, Alberto Giacometti, and Edgar Degas.
“We are thrilled to present one of the most exquisite watercolours by Pablo Picasso ever to come on the market. This magnificent work represents the pinnacle of Picasso’s artistic powers […]. With many outstanding paintings by Picasso appearing at auction over the past few seasons, it is refreshing to offer an example of his mastery in this intimate medium,” said Julian Dawes, who is the head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art evening sale, in a statement.
This gouache is currently on view in the auction house’s York Avenue galleries, with the exhibition marking the first public viewing of “Nature morte à la tête classique et au bouquet de fleurs” in the U.S.