NEW YORK – Christie’s is pleased to announce the top lot of the 20th Century Evening Sale on May 11, 2023 during the Spring Marquee Week of sales will be Pablo Picasso’sNature morte à la fenêtre (estimate on request; in the region of $40,000,000). This important, large-scale 1932 portrait of the artist’s golden muse Marie-Thérèse Walter dates from one of the most celebrated moments within Picasso’s entire career. This May will be the first time in history that the work has come to auction.
Vanessa Fusco, Head of Impressionist and Modern Art, and Co-Head of Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale, remarks,“Marie-Thérèse’s presence in Picasso’s life reinvigorated every area of his work, her statuesque form, radiant beauty, and carefree sensibility inspiring the artist to create works that stand among the finest of his entire career. Created at the very start Picasso’s annus mirabilis, Nature morte à la fenêtre is a testament to Marie-Thérèse’s powerful influence, and the great flourishing of activity she inspired in his art, from drawing to sculpture, printmaking to painting.”
Giovanna Bertazzoni, Vice Chairman of 20th and 21st Century Art, remarks,“We are thrilled to showcase this masterpiece at Christie’s New York, as we celebrate Picasso’s contribution to the history of art and legacy this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of his death.”
Nature morte à la fenêtre was painted in January of 1932, a pivotal year for the artist. Over the course of this year, Picasso reached an extraordinary peak of creativity in his paintings, inspired by the forms of Marie-Thérèse Walter, whose classical profile, curves and cropped hair came to dominate every aspect of his output in the early 1930s. Nature morte à la fenêtre is among the very first paintings in this exceptional series devoted to her, which includes seminal works such as Le Rêve, Jeune fille devant un miroir, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust and Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse)—which sold at Christie’s in 2021 for more than $103 million. The example on offer this season represents a highly significant moment within the story of Picasso’s so called “annus mirabilis” (year of wonder).
Almost immediately following its completion, Nature morte à la fenêtre was shown in renowned Picasso retrospective at the Galeries Georges Petit in Paris during the summer of 1932; it hung prominently in the gallery’s Grande Salle, directly above Le Rêve. It then traveled to the Kunsthaus Zürich for Picasso’s inaugural museum show later that year. The painting would continue to remained in the artist’s personal collection for the rest of his life, hidden from public view until the 1980s.