Picasso, whose portraits of his lovers and wives helped to define a particularly unshakable artist-muse dynamic within the modern art world, is a frequent presence at high-profile auctions. This October, Sotheby’s is structuring a celebratory auction around the iconic artist’s 140th birthday with a sale of some of his masterpieces at the MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection in Las Vegas. At the forefront of the auction will be Femme au béret rouge-orange, a portrait the artist created of his companion Marie-Thérèse Walter in 1938. During this period, Picasso was also beginning to interact with the photographer Dora Maar, and so the portrait represents a particularly potent transitional intimacy that also highlights the specificity of Walter’s beauty.
Femme au béret rouge-orange is expected to sell for between $20 and $30 million, and it’s easy to see why the canvas has been valued at so high a price: Walter’s clementine-colored beret sits atop her head like a crown, and evokes the similarly radiant hue present in the iconic, swooningly romantic Frederic Leighton painting Flaming June. The auction will also feature Homme et enfant, one of the largest paintings the artist ever executed. That canvas shows a man and a child; these figures are thought to be Picasso’s projections of his own stages of artistic development.
“It is a privilege to present this exemplary selection of works by Picasso from the MGM art collection in a special auction to support MGM Resorts in evolving their collection to represent a broader and more diverse group of artists,” Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s Chairman and Worldwide Head of Sales for Global Fine Art, said in a statement.
Speaking of artistic development, a Swiss bank called Sygnum also recently launched unprecedented sale of shares in the Picasso painting Fillette au béret via the blockchain, illustrating just how relevant the artist’s work has remained on the market in the 21st century.
New on the Block is a series that looks at the most notable or unusual items to go up for auction each week.