Pablo Picasso - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Tuesday, May 14, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Collection of Mary Callery, Paris
    Galerie Ile de France, Paris
    The Pace Gallery, New York (acquired from the above in October 1973)
    James Goodman Gallery, New York (acquired from the above in October 1980)
    Julian Schnabel, New York (acquired by 1999)
    PaceWildenstein, New York
    Private Collection, New York (acquired from the above in September 2009)
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in December 2009

  • Exhibited

    New York, The Pace Gallery, Works on Paper, December 4, 1974 - January 4, 1975
    New York, The Drawing Center; Los Angeles, Hammer Museum of Art, University of California, Drawn from Artists' Collections, April 24 - September 26, 1999, p. 123

  • Catalogue Essay

    Identified by Maya Widmaier-Picasso as a portrait of her mother Marie-Thérèse Walter, Femme en buste (Marie-Thérèse), January 1939, was executed at a time when Pablo Picasso frequently portayed two of his muses: Marie-Thérèse, his lover since 1927, and Dora Maar, a French painter and poet who had become his new mistress in the latter half of the 1930s. Though proliferating pictures of Picasso’s two primary models often converged during this period, a myriad of pencil studies of Marie-Thérèse, as well as the artist’s Femme alongée lisant from 1939, Musée Picasso, Paris, have helped in identifying the subject matter of the present work, as well as its precise date of execution. Formerly in the collection of the artist Julian Schnabel, Femme en buste (Marie-Thérèse) is a quintessential example of Picasso’s distinctive approach to portraiture, increasingly vested with deformation, physical dislocations and drastic abstraction, as a result of his continued interest in the Surrealist milieu. It furthermore allows a peek into the artist’s particular sensitivity towards Marie-Thérèse, whom he consistently portrayed as a luminous presence.

    A delectable image exuding lyrical calm and beauty, Femme en buste (Marie-Thérèse) is emblematic of Picasso’s vision of Marie-Thérèse. As opposed to Dora, whom he painted with the dark and ominous traits that characterized her high wit and heated temper, Marie-Thérèse was always illustrated as a pristine beauty, whose pale features and primeval blonde locks echoed her composed countenance. Residing in the same home and sharing a family with the artist since 1934, Marie-Thérèse symbolized peacefulness, stability and quiet domesticity, as evidenced in the present work’s gentle forms and unthreatening abstraction. "Dora would be the public companion, Marie-Thérèse and Maya continued to incarnate private life” Pierre Daix wrote. “Painting would be shared between them... Each woman would epitomize a particular facet of a period rich in increasingly dramatic repercussions" (Pierre Daix, Picasso: Life and Art, New York, 1993, p. 239).

  • Artist Biography

    Pablo Picasso

    Spanish • 1881 - 1973

    One of the most dominant and influential artists of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso was a master of endless reinvention. While significantly contributing to the movements of Surrealism, Neoclassicism and Expressionism, he is best known for pioneering the groundbreaking movement of Cubism alongside fellow artist Georges Braque in the 1910s. In his practice, he drew on African and Iberian visual culture as well as the developments in the fast-changing world around him.

    Throughout his long and prolific career, the Spanish-born artist consistently pushed the boundaries of art to new extremes. Picasso's oeuvre is famously characterized by a radical diversity of styles, ranging from his early forays in Cubism to his Classical Period and his later more gestural expressionist work, and a diverse array of media including printmaking, drawing, ceramics and sculpture as well as theater sets and costumes designs. 

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Property from a Distinguished New York Collection


Femme en buste/ Buste de femme couchée

Conté crayon on vellum
19 x 24 7/8 in. (48.3 x 63.3 cm.)
Executed in 1939, this work is accompanied by a photo-certificate issued by Maya-Widmaier Picasso.

The Comité Picasso confirmed the authenticity of this work on June 19, 1987.

$300,000 - 500,000 

Sold for $375,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 15 May | On View at 432 and 450 Park Avenue