Picasso's 'golden muse' portrait to lead Sotheby's at $56m

Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale will be spearheaded by one of Picasso's most iconic portraits, which is part of a series that first introduced his "golden muse", Marie-Therese Walter.

The monumental work will be offered with a £35m ($56.2m) estimate on February 5 in London.

Picasso 1932 Marie-Therese Golden Muse portrait
Marie-Therese remained with Picasso until he found his next "muse", Dora Maar

Femme assise pres d'une fenetre was created in 1932, and its back story has ensured that it has become one of Picasso's most famous works and, according to Sotheby's, a "primary emblem of love, sex and desire in 20th century art".

The artist held a major retrospective of his work in the summer of 1932, displaying for the first time a series of paintings depicting his young mistress Marie-Therese Walter. However, Picasso's wife, Olga Khoklova was also present at the exhibition, and it was here that she was first alerted to the presence of a new woman in his life.

Picasso's marriage subsequently collapsed, ushering in a new era of his career. Marie-Therese, with whom he remained for a short while, would go on to become the dominant subject of his portraiture until 1935.

Another portrait of Marie-Therese from the 1932 series, Nature morte aux tulips, was sold at Sotheby's last Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale in November for $41m.

With this sale, Sotheby's is certainly answering the demand for high-quality Picasso pieces. Following a drop in sales from 2011 to 2012, art adviser Wendy Goldsmith recently told Bloomberg: "Supply is the problem. There weren't as many good examples from the right periods coming up for auction last year. The market still loves Picasso. People just don't want to let them go."

You can still become part of the market for Picasso without paying the high prices seen by his premier works. Paul Fraser Collectibles is currently offering a signed postcard of Picasso's Absinthe Drinker - one of the finest and best-known works from his Blue Period.

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