Update 9 November 2023:
The auction closed at 7:13pm EST New York time on 8 November, 2023. Bidding started at $95 million and immediately shot up to $115 million. Three phone bidders outbid one another for 2 minutes until one anonymous bidder won with their bid of $121 million ($139.4 million total with taxes, fees). Femme à la montre is now the 2nd most expensive work (behind Les Femmes D'Alger) by the artist. Picasso painted this work at the age of 50, and he passed away 50 years ago this year.
According to pre-sale estimates in excess of $120 million, Pablo Picasso’s “Femme à la Montre (Woman in Watch), 1932” may become the second most expensive Picasso painting to sell at auction.
The painting is part of the collection of Emily Fisher Landau, an esteemed New York philanthropist and art collector, who passed away in March 2023 at the age of 102.
“Picasso’s Femme à la Montre is a masterpiece by every measure… it is full of joyful, passionate abandon yet at the same time it is utterly considered and resolved… It is a definitive work in the story of Western art.”
Pablo Picasso has become synonymous in the art world with France, Spain, blue periods, and of course, lovers. Over the course of his life’s work he has adapted his style to express himself to the best of his abilities– forgoing classical training and instead leaning upon the characteristics of modernity and geometric beauty to encompass the world. This skill set has been the main attribute to his success in the world of art.
With his painting, Femme à la Montre, he has done just this. Marie-Therese Walter, Picasso’s young mistress of multiple years, is depicted with a watch in jewel tones. The cobalt blue background is a defining feature besides her garish eyes, hair, and hands. As his muse, Walter was depicted by Picasso in a multitude of styles and scenes inspired by Picasso’s style de jour. Experimenting with proportions was Picasso's calling in his later years, and the rounded flowers that he calls fingers certainly portray this primitive beauty.
Picasso, throughout his periods of styles, has only gotten more influential in his work. His name now holds the attention of the entirety of the world, art-enthusiasts and general population alike.
Sotheby’s New York will auction Pablo Picasso’s “Femme à la Montre”, among other works, on November 8-9, 2023.