Pablo Picasso’s tender portrait Femme écrivant (Marie-Thérèse) (1934, estimate: £25,000,000-40,000,000) will be a leading highlight of Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, in London on 27 June 2017 as part of 20th Century at Christie’s, a series of sales that take place from 17 to 30 June 2017. Painted on 26 March 1934, Pablo Picasso’s Femme écrivant (Marie-Thérèse) is a joyous, colour-filled and deeply personal portrayal of Marie-Thérèse Walter, the young, blond-haired woman who, when she entered the artist’s life in January 1927, influenced the course of his art in an unprecedented manner. Femme écrivant is one of the greatest portraits of Marie-Thérèse, a radiant and intimate depiction of Picasso’s lover, which, along with the preceding paintings of the early 1930s, epitomises one of the finest phases in the artist’s career. The painting will be on view in Hong Kong from 5 to 9 of June 2017 before being exhibited in London from 17 to 27 June 2017.
Marie-Thérèse’s presence in Picasso’s life aroused a creative explosion; her youthful innocence, vitality, devotion and love was responsible for a renaissance in every area of his artistic production. By the beginning of 1931, her image began to saturate his sculpture and painting in radiant, euphoric form. Enthroned in an ornate brown leather studded chair, pictured in the midst of writing a letter, in Femme écrivant, Marie-Thérèse is seated in front of what appears to be a window, the daylight and pale blue sky of the outside world flooding into the secluded room in which she writes and illuminating her delicate features.
Picasso painted Femme écrivant (Marie-Thérèse) in Boisgeloup, the secluded and picturesque château situated near Gisors, a small Normandy village northwest of Paris that he had bought in the summer of 1930. It was here that Picasso painted what are now recognised as the greatest depictions of Marie-Thérèse; works such as the 1932 Le Rêve (Private Collection; Zervos VII, no. 364 sold at Christie’s, New York, 10 November 1997 for a record $48,402,500), Femme nue, feuilles et buste (sold at Christie’s, New York, 4 May 2010 for a record $106,482,500) and Femme nue dans un fauteuil rouge (Tate Gallery, London; Zervos VII, no. 395).
Pablo Picasso, Femme écrivant (Marie-Thérèse) (1934, estimate: £25,000,000-40,000,000), © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2017
Giovanna Bertazzoni, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist & Modern Art, Christie’s: “Femme écrivant (Marie-Thérèse) was created in 1934 at the height of Picasso’s admiration for his youthful and captivating muse Marie Thérèse. The impact she had on his creative process began when they first met but truly took hold of his heart and hand in the portraits he executed in his studio in Boisgeloup. This portrait remained in the artist’s collection until 1961, demonstrating the deep affection he held towards Marie Thérèse and the emotional significance it had for the artist. Picasso’s portraits of his muses capture the imagination and attention of collectors worldwide, now more than ever. Picasso represents a truly global phenomenon in the present art market, attracting buyers from Europe, America and Asia. Mainland Chinese collectors are, in particular, very aware of the power of his revolutionary style, and the significant role he occupies in the canon of modern Western Art. It’s an exciting time to offer such a strong, iconic and private painting by Picasso on the open market, and we are eager to see how it will touch and move collectors around the world in the forthcoming weeks ahead of the auction.”