Picasso Painting Rescued from the Nazis Could Bring $50 million



2017-03-30 10:13:33

A Pablo Picasso painting which was rescued from the Nazis by the French Resistance could sell for up to $50 million when it goes under the hammer in New York.

'Femme assise, robe bleue', painted in 1939, is a striking portrait of Picasso's lover and muse Dora Maar, a photographer whose fierce intelligence and creativity both inspired and challenged him as an artist. 

"It exhibits all of the most exhilarating qualities that Dora brought out in Picasso’s work: the striking palette, ornate headwear, and remarkable complexity conveyed by Dora’s distorted features," said Giovanna Bertazzoni, Deputy Chairman of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie's.

"The rich, thick twirls of oil depicting the mass of her hair (which Picasso was mesmerised by) and the shapes of her hat convey ‎the impetus and passion at the core of this portrait.

"We are bringing Femme assise, robe bleue to the market at a time when the demand for Picasso’s portraits of one of his greatest subjects, Dora Maar, is at an all-time high. The canvas is a powerful example of Picasso’s creative imagination and the passion which Dora inspired in him."

Not only is 'Femme assise, robe bleue' an important portrait of Picasso's greatest muse, but it comes with a remarkable back story.

The painting was originally owned by Picasso’s renowned dealer Paul Rosenberg, but it was confiscated by the Nazis soon after the German invasion of France in 1940.

The Nazi regime stole tens of thousands of artworks during their occupation, and attempted to transport many of them back to Berlin.

However, members of the French Resistance were determined to prevent these artistic treasures leaving France, including Alexandre Rosenberg - the son of Paul Rosenberg, who had enlisted with the Free French Forces soon after the invasion.

The Resistance managed to save the Picasso painting by intercepting it whilst on its way to Germany, in an episode which inspired the classic 1966 Burt Lancaster movie The Train.

"Femme assise, robe bleue is a timeless icon of artist and muse which speaks to collectors across the centuries and continents," said Francis Outred, Chairman and Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, EMERI.

"We fully expect the romance and power of this painting and its remarkable story to capture the hearts and minds of our global collectors of masterpieces from Old Masters to Contemporary, this May.”

The Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale takes place in New York on May 15.

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