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Pablo Picasso La Fille de l'Artiste

We assume nobody with a right mind would consider putting up a painting of a two-headed monster in their living room (unless you are into Dungeons & Dragons perhaps) but I guess this could possibly be a well-deserved exception to the rule. If you are one of the last-standing Russian oil-tycoons (thanks to your connections with the Kremlin) and you still have a resilient budget, you may wish to consider this colorful cubist art work by Pablo Picasso. Seriously now, this is one of the better works from Pablo Picasso so hopefully the MET, MoMA or Louvre can get a hold of it. This amazing cubist work was titled "La Fille de l'Artiste a Deux Ans et Demi avec un Bateau" which translates to "The Girl of the Artist at 2.5 Years with a Boat". Picasso painted the work in 1938 and his muse was Maya Picasso who is the subject of the portrait. We seriously doubt that Picasso gave Maya the boat (Pablo was just too self centered). But at least he made the painting. The medium is Oil on Canvas and it measures 73cm x 54cm (NASA uses metric for good reason, so should we since every millimeter of this painting is worth plenty more its weight in gold).

Not for the faint of hearth, this Picasso painting has an estimate of 16 to 24 million dollars. We are not fans of everything Pablo Picasso did (sticking pins in bulls is downright disturbed). But this work is exceptional in every way and very-well deserves its attention. It seems that lately, a lot of incredible art pieces are coming out of the woodwork, so that's a definite plus about this economy. We finally have a chance to see these incredible works of art which would otherwise be stored in dusty Upper East side closets or Fortune 500 boardrooms. First we had the Yves Saint Laurent collection and now this. Sotheby's has the sale. The auction will take place on May 5th in New York. Sale N08546 and lot number 15.

Catalog notes from Sotheby's:

Painted only months after he had finished his harrowing Guernica, this picture clearly evidences that Maya was a great source of joy in Picasso's life, even on the eve of the Second World War. Maya was the daughter of Picasso's young mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter, born in secrecy in 1935 while Picasso was still married to Olga. The baby girl presented new and delightful artistic challenges for her father, as Maya once explained in a reminiscence: "I was to bring something new to his interpretation of a child: I was a girl. From one point of view it was marvelous – a child he had had with Marie-Thérèse, a daughter, the worst woman in a man's life apart from his mother – the impossible mistress! He had to find a way of seducing this little goddess!" (quoted in Werner Spies, ed., Picasso's World of Children, New York, 1991, p. 60).

Picasso's palette for this picture captures the liveliness and playfulness of Maya's nursery. For the background he has chosen a robin's egg blue, which he also uses for the highlights of her blonde hair. He depicts her holding a favorite toy boat, which features in other portraits from this time, and a colorful pinwheel in her chubby hand. Although her face is depicted with the Surrealist distortion that was common in Picasso's pictures of Dora Maar and Marie-Thérèse from this era, her body is distinctly that of a child. "With a dab of color, a particular gesture, or the placing of a foot, he was able to capture the character of each of us" Maya remembers. "I, for example, am rather a fidget, and some portraits of me show me with arms and legs as if dislocated through such agitation. That's how I was then. That's how I am still." (ibid., p. 65).

The playful essence of Picasso's daughter, who was a constant presence in his studio, has been captured in this bold composition. While her father worked on the large canvas for Guernica, Maya would innocently pat her hands on the surface, recognizing the distinguishable profile of her mother in the faces of the anguished victims of the massacre. Maya, in fact, bore many of the physical characteristics of Marie-Thérèse, and Picasso preserved those features in his portraits of the toddler. In the midst of painterly elements of abstraction and exaggeration, we can see the distinct, dimpled chin of the little girl, whose almond-shaped eyes and rigid bone-structure are clearly traits of her Tutonic provenance. Maya wrote that the portraits that her father painted of her were "unbelievably true to life. Everything's here: my little girl's clothes, my hair, even my toys, and yet...these are marvelous portraits" (ibid., p. 58).

Portraiture captured Picasso's imagination perhaps more than any other subject in his oeuvre. These canvases were a means for him to express any given emotion, be it his passion for Marie-Thérèse, his resentment towards Olga or his adoration for his children. In fact, it is in Picasso's portraits of his children – Paulo, Maya, Paloma and Claude – that we see the artist at his most joyous and content, and his depictions of children at play are perhaps the most exuberant of all of his canvases. It was no secret that Picasso revered childhood, and in his art he attempted to capture the spirit and freedom that usually eludes adults. Playing with his children presented him with an opportunity to reclaim his lost youth, and his portraits of them were extensions of that cherished playtime. Maya remembers how her father would become engrossed in depicting his children, and how he approached the endeavor with all of his senses: "With his eyes he looked at us. With his hands he drew and modeled us. With his skin, his nostrils, his hear, his soul, even his guts, he felt what we were, what was concealed within us, our essence. This, I think, is why he had such enormous insights into human beings, however young they might be" (ibid., p. 57).

As was the case for his favorite portraits of family members, this stunning picture remained in Picasso's collection until his death in 1973. After that, it was inherited by Maya's niece, Marina, the daughter of her half-brother Paulo.

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