“La fenêtre ouverte” was done in 1929, during Pablo Picasso’s Surrealist period. The Spanish painter was never a Surrealist artist in the strict sense, although he had a close relationship with this artistic movement. In the foreground of the painting for sale at Christie’s are two very abstract figures, one of which represents Picasso’s mistress and muse, Marie-Thérèse Walter.   

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“[T]his powerful and explosively coloured painting from the highpoint of Picasso’s Surrealist period and two years into his clandestine love affair with Marie-Thérèse, represents a brilliant fusion of the different passions and inspirations that defined the artist’s life at the end of the 1920s. Relishing the secret nature of their romance, Picasso could not help but include his lover’s presence in the form of the plaster bust in this painting,” explained Olivier Camu, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie’s, in a press release.

The painting featured at Christie’s belongs to a series of studio paintings that Picasso initiated in 1926. Some of the works in this series are held in museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. 

“La fenêtre ouverte” will be offered at auction for the first time on March 1, during the evening sale “The Art of Surreal.” It is estimated to fetch between £14 million and £24 million (around US$19 million to US$32.3 million). This is significantly lower than the $179.4 million for which “Les femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’)” was sold in 2015 at Christie’s in New York. 

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Pandemic or not, the market for artworks by Picasso is not suffering. One of his paintings, “Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse),” is the only one to have crossed the highly symbolic threshold of $100 million in 2021. It went under the hammer for $103.4 million at a Christie’s sale in New York in May, almost double its initial estimate.

Photo by Christie’s.

Caroline Drzewinski