Pablo Picasso's Femme Assise up 8.3% at Sotheby's Paris

Pablo Picasso's Femme Assise (Femme Assise en Robe Grise) has sold as top lot in Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art auction in Paris.

Picasso Dora Maar
Dora Maar was a photographer, whom Picasso was initially attracted to as she cut her fingers playing the knife game in a restaurant

Held yesterday (June 6), the auction saw the masterwork sell for $4.9m, making an 8.3% increase on its $4.5m high estimate.

It depicts Dora Maar, one of Picasso's many lovers and muses, often referred to as the Woman in Tears after another of Picasso's portraits.

Picasso met Dora Maar while still with his other great mistress and muse, Marie-Therese Walther, with whom he had a daughter, Maya.

He was attracted to Maar's dark and depressive personality, which provided a sharp juxtaposition to the bright, sunny disposition of Marie-Therese.

By the time Femme Assise en Robe Grise was painted (1943), Picasso's relationship with Maar was becoming strained, with Maar increasingly depressed and jealous of Marie-Therese. She is reported to have thrown wild tantrums and had frequent hallucinations.

Nonetheless, Picasso continued to see Marie-Therese and Maya, and painted a beautiful portrait of his little girl just two days before be produced Femme Assise. The latter obviously demonstrates Maar's personality, but also Picasso's feelings towards her at the time.

Femme Assise en Robe Gris was one of two works consigned to the sale by Picasso's granddaughter Madame Marina Picasso. Also selling was Palette et Tete de Taureau, which sold for $1.8m.

Alberto Giacometti painted bronze
Alberto Giacometti's oeuvre is characterised by his gaunt painted bronze figures, making this early work of the utmost importance

Bringing the second highest results in the sale was one of Alberto Giacometti's renowned elongated figurines, which sold for $3.5m, an impressive 35.6% increase on its $1.9m high estimate.

The piece is one of the earliest of Giacometti's characteristic stretched figures, unveiled at the artist's first post-war exhibition in Paris in 1951. He later gave it his close friend and fellow artist Balthus.

The piece was consigned from the collection of Comtesse Vivian de Witt, one of France's first female auctioneers and wife of Jerome de Witt, an ancestor of Napoleon's brother Jerome, King of Westphalia.

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