“Femme au Béret et à la Robe Quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter),” from 1937, showed the continuing strength of Picasso in an auction at Sotheby’s.
LONDON — Sotheby’s set the year’s first benchmark price for trophy artworks at auction when Pablo Picasso’s 1937 painting “Femme au Béret et à la Robe Quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter)” sold in London for 49.8 million pounds with fees, or about $69.4 million. The prize piece in a 47-lot evening sale of Impressionist, modern and Surrealist art, it was bought by a telephone bidder, and had been estimated to reach at least £35 million.
“It was a fantastic painting,” said Gérard Faggionato, a partner at the David Zwirner Gallery in London. “I haven’t seen such a vibrant Picasso for a long time. Look at the wall power.”
The brightly colored, 22-inch-high canvas, painted on Dec. 4 in the same year as masterpieces such as “Guernica” and “The Weeping Woman,” was a head and shoulders study of Picasso’s mistress and muse, Marie-Thérèse Walter, whom he had met in Paris 10 years earlier. By 1937, Ms. Walter had given birth to Picasso’s daughter Maya, and was competing for the artist’s attention with Dora Maar, the model for “Weeping Woman.”