Discover Picasso’s Hidden Love Story: Compotier et Guitare

Sotheby’s Modern Evening Auction recently announced an upcoming showcase of an extraordinary still life by Pablo Picasso.

This masterpiece holds concealed allusions to his renowned “Golden muse,” Marie-Thérèse Walter, during the years of their secretive affair, shrouded in mystery. Pablo Picasso’s Compotier et Guitare, a masterpiece painted in 1932, holds within its vivid strokes a hidden love story. This article delves into the captivating narrative behind this artwork, exploring its clandestine ties to Picasso’s “Golden muse,” Marie-Thérèse Walter, and its significance in the artist’s career.

The Year of Secrecy

In 1932, a year of immense consequence for Picasso’s career, Compotier et Guitare came to life. Painted on the eve of Valentine’s Day, it concealed a secret known to very few – Picasso’s enduring affair with Marie-Thérèse Walter. At that time, their love remained shrouded in mystery, known only to the artist and his muse.

Discover Picasso's Hidden Love Story: Compotier et Guitare
Pablo Picasso, Compotier Et Guitare,1932, Oil On Canvas

It wasn’t until June of that year, during Picasso’s retrospective at the Galeries Georges Petit in Paris, that their relationship was revealed to the world. Picasso hand-picked this painting for the exhibition, marking the first time he personally curated his own work. Alongside numerous portraits of Marie-Thérèse, Compotier et Guitare became a testament to their love, publicly declaring her as his muse and lover.

A Rare Gem on Auction

After two decades hidden from the public eye, Compotier et Guitare is set to make a dazzling return. Estimated to reach a staggering $25 million, it is poised to become one of the most valuable still life works by Picasso ever offered at auction. This masterpiece was unveiled at Sotheby’s galleries in Hong Kong, allowing Asia to witness its beauty for the first time in over 30 years.

Compotier et Guitare is a testament to Picasso’s profound connection with Marie-Thérèse. The painting’s flowing lines of green drapery mirror her form, while the dominant yellow and lavender palette becomes synonymous with her portrayal. The guitar, a recurring motif, carries an innate sensuality, embodying Picasso’s infatuation. This versatile subject spanned Picasso’s artistic journey, from his Blue Period to his final works. Notably, his 1919 painting, Guitare sur une Table, set a record in November 2022, selling for $37.1 million at Sotheby’s.

Influences and Inspirations

Within Compotier et Guitare, we find nods to Picasso’s rival, Henri Matisse, evident in the diamond-patterned wallpaper and the curvature of the fruit bowl and guitar. Matisse’s reclining figures, like Odalisque couchée from 1926, draw parallels to Picasso’s forms, further alluding to Marie-Thérèse. The diamond wallpaper pattern also appears in other significant works by Picasso from this period, such as Girl Before a Mirror, painted in the same year.

Discover Picasso's Hidden Love Story: Compotier et Guitare
Henri Matisse, “Odalisque Couchée”, 1926

Three months after completing Compotier et Guitare, Picasso featured it in his first-ever retrospective at the Galeries Georges Petit in Paris. This transformative exhibition showcased 238 works, marking a shift in Picasso’s artistic trajectory as he presented his recent paintings alongside his famous Cubist pieces, signifying a significant transition.

A Love Unveiled: Femme à la Montre

Another remarkable creation from 1932, Femme à la Montre, is part of the prestigious Emily Fisher Landau collection and offers a fresh perspective on Picasso’s portrayal of Marie-Thérèse. Together with Compotier et Guitare, these artworks illuminate the evolution of Picasso’s artistic expression during his ‘annus mirabilis,’ showcasing his mastery of reinvention.

Both masterpieces, Compotier et Guitare and Femme à la Montre, will be displayed together at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, starting 2nd of October. This marks the first time these two captivating works have been exhibited side by side, allowing the public to witness their intertwined stories and appreciate Picasso’s artistic metamorphosis.

In conclusion, Compotier et Guitare is more than just a painting; it is a testament to Picasso’s secret love and his artistic genius. As these two remarkable works grace the exhibition halls of Hong Kong, they unveil the hidden chapters of Picasso’s life, making art enthusiasts around the world privy to his intimate connection with Marie-Thérèse Walter.

Images: Sotheby’s

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