Christie’s Announces £14m Picasso to Lead Shanghai-London Relay sale

March 1st sale will include Surrealist Picasso atelier work from 1929

Marion Maneker

Fri, Jan 21, 2022

Christie’s Announces £14m Picasso to Lead Shanghai-London Relay sale

On March 1st, Christie’s will resume its relay sales with an event linking the firm’s Shanghai headquarters with London selling works in the 20/21 format with the addition of a traditional London sale focused around the Art of Surrealism.

To promote that event, Christie’s has released one of the leading lots for the Surrealism sale, a 1929 work by Pablo Picasso depicting and open window. La fenêtre ouverte is estimated at £14 million. It comes from a series of works set in the painter’s atelier. Picasso started the series three years before in 1926.

Although the work is distinctively from the fecund painter’s Surrealist period, Christie’s is eager to highlight the connections to Picasso’s subject and lover Marie-Thérèse Walter. Walter’s image has become a selling point in the Picasso market for several years now. Picasso had met Walter nearly three years earlier. At the time this atelier painting was made, they had a secret apartment near Picasso’s home. According to Christie’s, John Richardson had suggested this painting was set in Marie-Thérèse’s flat. More important to the sale of the work, Christie’s wants to identify one of the figures in the painting as Walter herself.

“This metamorphosised, cryptically coded work stands as a fascinating self-portrait of Picasso and his golden haired muse,” says Olivier Camu, Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, in a press release. It “represents a brilliant fusion of the different passions and inspirations that defined the artist’s life at the end of the 1920s. Relishing the secret nature of their romance, Picasso could not help but include his lover’s presence in the form of the plaster bust in this painting.”

Walter would not appear directly in Picasso’s work for another few years, most famously in the works from 1932 like Girl Before a Mirror, Nude with Green Leaves and Bust and The Dream. Works depicting Walter are among the most valuable Picassos sold on the public and private markets.