One of Pablo Picasso's most iconic and elusive paintings will be displayed in the UK for the first time - only its second public outing in 60 years. 'Nude, Green Leaves and Bust' hit the headlines in May 2010, when it was sold by Christie's for $106.5m, making it the most expensive art work ever sold at auction.
The piece was created in just one day by the legendary Spanish artist. Painted at the height of his powers in 1932, 'Nude, Green Leaves and Bust' is a surreal and provocative depiction of Picasso's muse and lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter.
The cubist and surrealist pioneer met Walter five years prior, stopping her outside of a Paris metro station and famously declaring: "I am Picasso! You and I are going to do great things together". Their passionate and clandestine affair - conducted behind the back of Picasso's wife - fuelled much of the Spaniard's best work in the 1930s.
A prime example is 'La Lecture', painted in the same year and portraying Walter asleep in an armchair with a half-read book spread across her lap. As we reported last month, it was sold at Sotheby's for $40.7m - underlining the desirability of Picasso's mid-era works.
'La Lecture' has been exhibited widely over the years - in stark contrast to 'Nude, Green Leaves and Bust'. The latter was purchased by Sidney and Frances Brody in 1951 and was publicly displayed only once in 1961: the year of Picasso's 80th birthday. For half a century since, the remarkable piece has remained hidden away.
Its new owner has also kept a low profile - the identity of last May's buyer is still unknown, although the announcement of its display in the UK has been taken as a hint that he or she may be British - or British-based.
The painting will take pride of place in the Tate Modern's new Picasso room, along with other priceless pieces by one of the true masters of 20th Century art.
For many art lovers and collectors, ownership of a Picasso may seem an impossible aspiration, but this isn't necessarily so. At the end of last month, Auctions Neapolitan offered some Picasso etchings with a low estimate of $14,000. Similarly, for a moderate investment, you could own a unique Picasso ink drawing.
With the unprecedented display of 'Nude, Green Leaves and Bust' - which starts today - art enthusiasts, collectors and investors can see the genius of Picasso at close quarters; and maybe that will serve as an inspiration to get more involved in the world of fine art.
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