On 11 May, Christie’s newly introduced 20th Century Evening Sale in New York will be highlighted by Pablo Picasso’s Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse), 30 October 1932 (estimate in the region of $55 million). One of the extraordinary series of iconic portraits that Picasso painted of his golden-haired muse during this landmark year, this monumental work is among the most stately and impressive depictions of Marie-Thérèse that the artist painted.
Vanessa Fusco, Co-Head of the 20th Century Evening Sale, remarked: “From the defining series that introduced Marie-Thérèse to the public eye, Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse) was painted during a seminal year in which Picasso crafted a new pictorial language to depict his muse and lover. This striking, monumental portrait was last seen publicly in the superb exhibition devoted to the artist’s “year of wonders,” Picasso 1932, at the Musée Picasso, Paris and Tate Modern, London in 2017-2018. As one of the most ground-breaking and influential artists of the 20th Century, it is only fitting that this exceptional painting will lead the inaugural newly formatted 20th Century Art Evening Sale at Christie’s.”
Painted in Boisgeloup on 30 October 1932, Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse) crowns this great series of 1932 masterpieces. By this time, Marie-Thérèse had risen to ascendance in every area of her lover’s output. In the present work, she has claimed absolute command, an idolized muse now reigning deity-like over the artist and his creation.
Here, Picasso has presented Marie-Thérèse as a winged goddess, a modern-day Nike, her head lunar, luminous and sculptural as if carved from marble, and yet her body sensuous and soft, orbiting around her fiery red torso. No more the languorously reclining nude lost in a private reverie, in the present portrait she is clothed, alert and upright, her omniscient gaze demonstrating that she is in complete command of her subjects, the artist, her lover, clearly captive to her thrall.
The year 1932 witnessed the extraordinary outpouring of large-scale, color-filled, rhapsodic depictions of Marie-Thérèse. Having deified her statuesque forms and classical profile in the great series of plaster busts the year prior, Picasso allowed the influence of his young mistress and the bliss in which he found himself, fill his painting. Pictured both seated and reclining, this series saw Picasso perform artistic alchemy with these two revered motifs. With this great succession of paintings—which includes works such as Le Rêve, Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust, Le Lecture (Musée Picasso, Paris), and Jeune fille devant le miroir (The Museum of Modern Art, New York) —Picasso reached the height of his artistic powers. “There is no doubt,” William Rubin declared, “that 1932 marks the peak of fever-pitch intensity and achievement, a year of rapturous masterpieces that reach a new and unfamiliar summit in both his painting and sculpture.”