Pablo Picasso‘s 1934 painting, Femme a la Montre (Woman with a Watch), just sold for $139m USD via Sotheby’s. The work shattered its prior estimate of $120m USD and has become the most valuable artwork to sell globally via auction this year.
Created in his signature Cubist style, the painting depicts French model Marie-Thérèse Walter, who Picasso had an affair with from 1927 to 1935, as she’s sat in a throne-like chair against a cobalt blue background. While still married to his first wife, Olga Khokhlova, Picasso saw Walter as a muse who would inspire numerous works during the height of his career.
Femme a la Montre gave Picasso a “sense of release,” wrote Julian Dawes, Sotheby’s head of Impressionist & Modern Art for the Americas, giving the Spanish artist “full painterly rein to new-found freedoms, drenching the painting in strong primary colors and beautiful forms, while at the same time paying careful attention to every small detail, creating a composition that is both intensely complex and deeply harmonious.”
The artwork sold to an anonymous buyer and belonged to The Emily Fisher Landau Collection, hailed as the most valuable sale devoted to a female collector in auction history. Femme a la Montre now ranks as the second highest Picasso work sold at auction, just behind Les Femmes d’Alger (Women of Algiers), which garnered $179.3m via Christie’s back in 2015.