Pablo Picasso’s Femme au béret et à la robe quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter), goes under the hammer at Sotheby’s after an international tour of exhibition dates including Hong Kong 30 January- 2 February, Taipei 6 -7 February, New York 12- 14 February, London 22 -28 February.
The portrait has been identified as one of Picasso’s weeping women series
The work highlights the psychological intensity of the sitter, bringing it to a climax in a turbulent and highly charged portrait. The painting was created the same year as his pivotal masterpiece Guernica which was also executed in 1937. In the final month of that momentous year he painted this vivid, poignant and intense image of his golden muse Marie-Thérèse Walter. This defining work will be offered for the first time as a star lot of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in London on 28 February 2018.
The women of Picasso’s life are the fulcrum of his creative genius, unquestionably essential to his creative and intellectual processes. Femme au béret et à la robe quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter) charts Picasso’s evolving relationship with his muse Marie-Thérèse Walter, to whom he was ostensibly still devoted at the time, and the increasingly dominant presence of his new lover Dora Maar. Indeed, the work appears to have been used as a means for exploring his feelings for the two women. There is a conscious blurring of the two styles inspired by the two muses, reaching its pinnacle in the silhouetted ‘other’ that emerges from behind the main subject. Whether it represents Maar or indeed a self-portrait, the implication is that of duality and conflict. Picasso is quoted: ‘It must be painful for a girl to see in a painting that she is on the way out’.
“She is entirely reduced to inner tears – a resigned sadness, nonetheless suffused with love.”
The beginning of the decade marked a period of sublime happiness for Picasso, as witnessed in the extraordinarily sensual and lyrical paintings of Marie-Thérèse in 1932 – which are the subject of the current acclaimed exhibition at Musée Picasso in Paris and will feature in a forthcoming show at Tate Modern in London. This extremely dynamic painting reveals just how much things had changed for him in the intervening five years. The work’s sharp cubistic edges, thick impastoed paint and black outlines give it an immediate visual impact – the emphatic execution and bold palette packed with emotional charge. The depiction of Marie-Thérèse has matured from the voluptuous curves and sleepy, passive suggestiveness to the woman who gave birth to Picasso’s child. The portrait suggests that she continued to be of central importance to the artist.
These personal disruptions in 1937 were mirrored by wider political unrest in the artist’s native Spain, the year marked by a succession of shattering events including the bombing of the small town of Guernica in Basque Spain – which prompted the grand masterpiece Guernica and a harrowing series of weeping women. This portrait, with its green welling tears, has been identified as a continuation of and counterbalance to the sequence of weeping women: ‘[she is] entirely reduced to inner tears – a resigned sadness, nonetheless suffused with love.’