Pablo Picasso’s painting Jeune Fille Endormie, showing Marie-Therese snoozing on her folded arms, is estimated to fetch £9 million ($15 million) to £12 million ($20 million) at Christie’s International. An anonymous American donor has given a Picasso canvas to the University of Sydney on the condition the school use proceeds from the painting’s sale to fund scientific research.
Jeune fille endormie, painted in 1935, shows Marie-Therese Walter asleep on her arms. It was bought by Walter P Chrysler, founder of the motor company, and was shown at a Picasso retrospective at MoMa in 1939 and an exhibition of works from the Chrysler collection in 1941. It has changed hands just once since and not been seen in public. Giovanna Bertazzoni, head of impressionist and modern art at Christie’s London, called it an absolute jewel of a painting by one of the great artistic geniuses of western art.
Its auction follows the record-breaking sale of another 1930s Picasso’s portrait of Walter last year. Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (1932) became the most expensive painting sold at auction when it was bought in New York for $106 million, and can now be seen at Tate Modern, to which it was loaned by its anonymous owner. Another in Picasso’s series of Walter portraits, La Lecture (1932), was sold in London earlier this year for £25.2 million, more than double the low estimate of £12 million.