Picasso Sculpture Expected to fetch $30 M. at Christie’s in May

Pablo Picasso, Tête de femme (Fernande) (1909). Courtesy of Christie's Images, Ltd.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will sell the bronze Picasso sculpture “Head of a Woman” (Fernanda) in May at Christie’s. This work is one of the most expensive removals from museums in recent years. It is valued at about $30 million.

All proceeds from the Picasso artwork`s sale will go toward new acquisitions. Considered Picasso’s first cubist sculpture, the artwork is a study of his beloved Fernanda Olivier in three dimensions with multiple perspectives visible at the same time. Luckily for the museum, it has another copy of the same Picasso artwork.

Many of the sculpture’s geometric planes were partly inspired by the artist’s travels in the Catalan countryside. It is now known as Horta de San Juan. There, a native Spaniard was given a home away from his Parisian home. And they gave new grounds for creative searches.

About 20 casts of Picasso’s artworks are known. Another copy entered the museum’s collection last year. The duplicate, “Head of a Woman” (Fernanda), is taken from the treasury of Cubist art donated by Leonard Lauder.

The version sold by the Met was bequeathed to Floren M. Schönborn, who died in 1995. Picasso’s artwork has been in the museum’s collection for over 35 years. Picasso’s sculpture is covered by a guarantee, that is, it is as good as it was sold. The proceeds will come as a surprise to the museum, which typically makes about $15 million in art sales a year.

Portrait of Fernande Olivier, 1900s. Found in the collection of Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

“Tête de femme (Fernanda) is the definitive early sculpture of Cubism,” Max Carter, head of Impressionism and Contemporary Art at Christie, said in a statement. “His revolutionary architectural cut, cut and honed by Picasso after being sculpted in clay, is as reminiscent of Vesalius as it is of Frank Gehry.”

Back in September, Katya Kazakina told Artnet News Pro that the institution was considering selling the statue. The museum refused to confirm at the time. Last Autumn, the Met ditched 219 prints and photographs to take advantage of a two-year window during which the Association of Art Museum Directors allows its members to sell art with the purpose to raise money for the care of the art collection. These temporary rules, introduced in response to the pandemic in April 2020, will expire on April 10, 2022.

These temporary rules, introduced in response to the pandemic in April 2020, will expire on April 10, 2022. The sale of Picasso`s artwork is scheduled for May. The Met confirmed that the proceeds will be used solely to purchase more art. The museum recently acquired the second most valuable piece in its history; an additional $30 million will help fund much more.


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