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On the Auction Block: Stellar Impressionist and Modern Works in London

Picasso, Giacometti, and Dalí lead February 28 sales at Sotheby’s.

“With such a strong appetite for Picassos at the moment, it is an honor to present a rare fresh-to-market work,” says Helena Newman, global cohead of impressionist and modern art at Sotheby’s. She is referring to his stunning 1937 portrait of lover and muse Marie-Thérèse Walter, which will be offered in London the evening of February 28.

Femme au béret et à la robe quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter) is one of the greatest Picasso portraits to appear on the market in recent years,” says Thomas Bompard, head of the impressionist and modern art evening sales for Sotheby’s London, adding that it was painted only months after Picasso’s monumental Guernica and Weeping Woman—the latter bearing features resembling those of yet another lover, Dora Maar. (An important painting of the same subject, executed in 1932, hits the block at Phillips in London on March 8).

The portrait, which carries an unpublished estimate in the range of $50 million, is one of a quartet of Picassos heading to the block that evening. The others are Le Matador, an oil on canvas painted in October 1970, which is pegged at £14 million to £18 million ($19.5 million to $28 million); Tête de Femme, an oil on canvas from 1963, tagged at £5 million to £7 million ($7 million to $9.75 million); and a double-sided gouache and pencil on paper, Deux Femmes Assises (recto), Étude Pour ‘L’offrande‘ (verso), executed in the spring of 1908. The latter is more modestly estimated at £1 million to £1.5 million ($1.4 million to $2.1 million).

Other highlights include Alberto Giacometti’s Lustre avec femme, homme et oiseau, a quadruple-branched bronze chandelier originally commissioned by Swiss art book publisher Louis Broder in 1949, and is the first of three cast in 1952. It carries an estimate of £6 million to £8 million ($8.35 million to $11.1 million).

Two works by Salvador Dalí headline the Surrealist sale later in the evening on February 28, with both hailing from the collection of Condesa Cuevas de Vera. The first, Gradiva, is an oil on copper painted in 1931, and the other is an oil on panel, Maison Pour Érotomane, from 1932. They each carry estimates of £1.2 million to £1.8 million ($1.7 million to $2.5 million).

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