Lot 42
  • 42

Pablo Picasso

6,000,000 - 8,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Pablo Picasso
  • Femme à la robe verte
  • Dated 1er Mai 56 II on the reverse
  • Oil on canvas
  • 36 1/8 by 28 3/4 on.
  • 92 by 73 cm


Estate of the artist

Gagosian Gallery

Acquired from the above


London, Gagosian Gallery, Picasso, The Mediterranean Years, 1945-1962, 2010, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Excellent condition. Original canvas. Under UV light, no evidence of retouching. This work is in pristine condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Femme à la robe verte is one of Picasso's major canvases in oil to be inspired by the woman who would ultimately become his wife, Jacqueline Roque.   Jacqueline had met Picasso in the early 1950s at the pottery studio in Vallauris, and she was one of several women competing for his attention following his break-up with Françoise Gilot.   Jacqueline's unflappable support and willingness to sacrifice herself on the altar of his ego won the artist's heart and Picasso married her in 1961.   Rendered in sharp, triangulated planes, the present composition calls to mind the angular depictions of Dora Maar from the early 1940s, but the color choices evoke a more peaceful and fulfilling time in Picasso's life.  The soothing palette of green, lavender and white that he had customarily used in his depictions of Marie-Thérèse in the 1930s reappear here, perhaps indicative of contentment Picasso was now experiencing in his new relationship.  

The image of Jacqueline, seated in profile, came to define her soft-spoken persona in the 1950s.   Femme à la robe was created just as her relationship with Picasso had achieved a deeper level of commitment in 1956 and hints at the steady and powerful force she would become in the artist’s life until his death in 1973.  In the catalogue for The Mediterranean Years exhibition in which the present picture was included, John Richardson described Picasso's depictions of Jacqueline at the beginning of their relationship:  The brilliant series of portraits that record Jacqueline's triumphant rise as Picasso's maîtresse-en-titre reveal not only the splendors but also the miseries of her new role.  Picasso and Jacqueline were more or less the same height (5 feet 4 inches), and they could easily be mistaken for father and daughter in that they both had strikingly larger features, notably very large eyes.  Picasso used his Andalusian mirada fuerte (strong gaze) to undress, seduce, amuse, terrify, or devour whomever he was out to get.  In his portraits of Jacqueline, Picasso often gave her his eyes -- enormously magnified, but nonetheless submissive; infinitely loving, but sometimes sick or scared.  Similarly, just as he had ameliorated Jacqueline's appearance in some of his earlier portraits by giving her the long neck she lacked, he was no less capable of doing the reverse.  By adjusting her image, he could humiliate or test Jacqueline, indicate love or anger or desire, and even, on occasion, predict or ordain a bout of illness" (J. Richardson, Picasso, The Mediterranean Years, op. cit., pp. 29-33).

Femme à la robe
features the raven-haired Jacqueline at the beginning of the couple’s relationship and sitting in Picasso’s favorite rocking chair, which was a constant fixture in his studio at their home,  La Californie.  Several of Picasso’s contemporaries claimed that Picasso rarely painted from live models and that his figural portraits were all products of his imagination.  In his photographic essay on the artist, David Douglas Duncan wrote about this practice and specifically referred to these first depictions of Jacqueline seated in the precious wooden rocker:   “Jacqueline sometimes mirrored Pablo sitting in his favorite turn-of-the-century rocker. He had two.  They followed him whenever he changed homes, his always faithful refuge in which to curl up, isolated – just to think.  One of his first portraits of her was drawn in charcoal when she pulled her feet up into the companion chair – as she often did, even though when he transformed profile to portrait she was nowhere in sight.  She never posed.”  (D.D. Duncan, Picasso and Jacqueline, New York and London, 1988, p. 123).