Sotheby’s is touting this Picasso work, Femme assise (1909), one of the last remaining cubist portraits in private hands, as a major consignment for the London sales cycle.
The work was previously bought in 1973, the year of Picasso’s death, from Sotheby’s for £304,000. That sum was no small figure in 1973.
When it comes back to market, Sotheby’s will be expecting no less than £30m from the winning bidder. With the pound weakened by uncertainty surrounding the UK’s participation in the European Union, buying power will be magnified.
Femme assise is among a small number of portraits from this series remaining in private hands, with most of the others held in prestigious international museum collections, including Tate Modern, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg; Hiroshima Museum of Art, Hiroshima; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Pola Museum of Art Kanagawa.
Last sold at auction in 1973 at Sotheby’s in London, Femme assise has remained in a private collection for over forty years, during which time it has featured in some of the most important international exhibitions of Picasso’s work, including key exhibitions on Cubism: Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1989; Picasso: Sculptor/Painter at Tate Gallery, London, in 1994; and Picasso: The Cubist Portraits of Fernande Olivier at the National Gallery of Art, Washington in 2003-04.