Sotheby’s to auction Pablo Picasso’s Tete de Femm in Paris

. May 13, 2012

Sotheby’s are to auction Pablo Picasso’s Tete de Femm (1939-41) in Paris on 30 May. This portrait of Dora Maar, consigned from a private European collection, is appearing at auction for the first time (est. €3-5 M / $4-6.6 M).

Tete de Femme

Picasso left Paris after war broke out in September 1939, and moved to the seaside resort of Royan with the two women who shared his life: Marie-Thérèse Walter lived in a villa and their daughter Maya, while Picasso and Dora Maar shared a hotel room. It was in Royan that the two muses first met. Tête de Femme was painted on 17 October 1939, in Picasso’s new studio in the Villa des Voiliers on the seafront. Like other portraits of Dora Maar painted in Royan, Tête de Femme also integrates facial traits of Marie-Thérèse Walter as portrayed by Picasso throughout the 1930s. The work juxtaposes soft, luminous tones in pink, yellow and blue (clear signs of the tenderness he still felt for his former blonde mistress) with the sombre colours, dramatic intensity and angular features of his new brunette, Dora. As Robert Rosenblum put it in his catalogue note for the exhibition Picasso et le Portrait held at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1996-97 (p. 381), Picasso “objectified and simultaneously minimized the differences between his former and current lovers, placing them in the same physical and psychological mould, comparing… the beautiful blonde and the beautiful brunette, softness and sharpness, languidness and liveliness…. Whether inside or outside his studio, Picasso could admire his pantheon of goddesses and demons, venerate and compare them, and fuse them together so as to ultimately conquer them.”

Category: Fine Art

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