ARTS & COLLECTIBLES

GOING, GOING, GONE!

Pablo Picasso’s portrait of Marie-Thérèse achieves superb results at auction.

JESSICA HALL

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Femme au Béret Mauve, 1937 by Pablo Picasso. Estimate: US $10,000,000-15,000,000.

In the early months of 1937, Picasso’s emotional life was in a state of flux. Still married to his estranged wife Olga, who steadfastly refused to give him a divorce, the artist was dividing his time between two other women; Marie-Thérèse Walter – his lover of the previous ten years and mother of his daughter Maya, and his new love, Dora Maar, whom he had met the previous year. Politically, the Spanish Civil War, which had begun in 1936, was a cause of particular anguish to Picasso; the tragedy at Guernica, later memorialized by the painter in the work of the same name, was but weeks away when he executed this portrait.

Femme au Béret Mauve was one of several depictions of Marie-Thérèse painted at Le Tremblay-sur-Mauldre, a village about 50km to the west of Paris where the artist had installed Marie and Maya and where he would visit them at weekends. Art critic Martin Gayford said, “The pictures done in Le Tremblay-sur-Mauldre continued to be concerned with the subjects Marie-Thérèse had always suggested to him: sensuality, but also domestic peace, love, and calm.”

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Marie-Thérèse Walter nursing Maya, April 1936

 

By contrast, Dora Maar, who lived close by Picasso’s rue des Grands Augustins studio in Paris, is frequently represented in works of this period as a figure, erratic and emotionally vulnerable – the qualities which had drawn the painter to her in the first place. Dora is depicted in Weeping Woman, a work that acts as an emotional pendant to Femme au Béret Mauve.

Pablo Picasso’s major portrait, Femme au Béret Mauve, 1937, recently sold at auction for $10,837,063.

© 2021 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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