A genuinely rare-to-market Cubist masterpiece headlines Sotheby’s June 21 evening sale in London, with Pablo Picasso’s stunning “Femme Assise,” 1909, featuring the fragmented beauty of his lover, Fernande Olivier, who he spent that revolutionary summer with in Spain’s rugged and remote Horta de Ebro.
That sojourn to Horta is considered to be Picasso’s most productive of his entire career.
Last sold at Sotheby’s London in 1973 for £340,000 and harbored in a private collection since then, the picture carries an unpublished estimate in excess of £30 million.
The auction high for any Cubist work was set by Picasso’s “Femme assise dans un fauteuil (Eva),” 1913, at the storied Victor & Sally Ganz single-owner sale in November 1997 at Christie’s. It went for $24,752,000.
The 1909 painting has been included in major exhibitions, such as “Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism” at the Museum of Modern Art in 1989 and “Picasso: Sculptor/Painter” at the Tate Gallery in London, in 1994.
Still, it has an awfully long way to travel in order to beat the artist’s auction record set at Christie’s New York in May 2015, when “Les femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’),” 1955, fetched $179,365,000.