The Impressionist and Modern market has come roaring back this past season pulling along works by Modern artists that are prized by Contemporary collectors like Picasso’s series of late works. Prime examples are often musketeers, swordsmen or heroic artists. This season Sotheby’s brings the less common image of a matador to the auction block with an estimate starting at £14m. Here’s the auction house’s release on one of the artist’s last paintings:
Monumental in scale, highly charged and painted in vivid colours, Le Matador is the culmination of a life-long obsession of Picasso’s that remained one of the most important themes throughout his career. The painting is a brilliant display of the virtuosity with which Picasso combined the complex elements that had shaped his life and art and stands as a defiant tribute to the heroic figure of the matador – embodying the artist’s own Andalusian machismo as the master of modern art takes centre-stage in the arena.
“This powerful portrait exemplifies Picasso’s creative force in his final years and represents the culmination of a life-long obsession,”Helena Newman, Global Co-Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department & Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said. “Through the subject of the bullfight, Picasso explores the theme of life and death, creation and destruction, earth and sun, casting himself at the centre stage of the spectacle. We are thrilled to be presenting two prime examples of works by Picasso at his very best in one sale – Le Matador and Femme au béret et à la robe quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter) – both from key periods of the artist’s career.”
Picasso had begun to feel that his time on this earth was running out, and so engaged in constant conversation with the great masters before him – Goya, Velasquez and Delacroix – following the traditions they had set in order to reinvent them and make a lasting mark. Appearing at auction for the first time, the work will be unveiled first in Taipei then New York before it is exhibited in London and offered in Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 28 February 2018.