“Femme à la montre” sold for more than $139 million

Pablo Picasso’s 1932 painting “Femme à la montre” sold for more than $139 million earlier this month at a Sotheby’s New York auction. It is seen by many as a bellwether for the overall art market. It went under the hammer as part of an estimated $400 million sale of the collection of late philanthropist Emily Fisher Landau, who had bought the painting in 1968.

Sotheby’s art handlers adjust Pablo Picasso’s “Femme à la montre” from the Emily Fisher Landau Collection during an unveiling at the Breuer Building in New York City on Sept. 11, 2023 in New York City. ALEXI J. ROSENFELD/GETTY IMAGES FOR SOTHEBY’S

The nine-digit price made it the second most-expensive Picasso painting to sell at auction, behind “Les femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’),” which fetched $179.3 million, including a buyer’s premium, at Christie’s in 2015.

“Femme à la montre,” which translates from French to “Woman with a Watch,” is a portrait of the artist’s lover Marie-Thérèse Walter seated in a throne-like chair against a blue background. Walter was 17 years old when she met the 45-year-old Picasso in Paris, and the two later entered into a secret relationship while he was still married to Khokhlova. Walter became his subject for a number of artworks, including the 1932 painting “Femme nue couchée,” which sold for $67.5 million at auction in 2022.

Picasso painted “Femme à la montre” at a pivotal year in his career. At 50 years old, he had already achieved widespread fame by 1932 but ramped up his ambitions to silence critics who questioned “whether he was an artist of the past rather than the future,” according to the Tate Modern museum.

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Read more at Reuters