Lot 19
  • 19

Pablo Picasso

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 GBP
1,928,750 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Pablo Picasso
  • Femme endormie
  • dated Boisgeloup 28 juin XXXIII (lower edge)
  • oil on canvas
  • 15.8 by 23.7cm.
  • 6 1/4 by 9 3/8 in.


Estate of the artist

Marina Picasso, Paris (the artist's granddaughter; by descent from the above and until at least 1982)

Galerie Thomas, Munich

Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above in the 1980s. Sold: Sotheby's, London, 22nd June 2010, lot 15)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Munich, Haus der Kunst; Cologne, Josef-Haubrich-Kunsthalle; Frankfurt, Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut & Zurich, Kunsthaus, Pablo Picasso. Eine Ausstellung zum hundertsten Geburtstag. Werke aus der Sammlung Marina Picasso, 1981-82, no. 157, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Tokyo, The National Museum of Modern Art & Kyoto, Municipal Museum, Picasso: Masterpieces from Marina Picasso Collection and from Museums in U.S.A. and U.S.S.R., 1983, no. 132, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Catalogue Note

Picasso first saw Marie-Thérèse on the streets of Paris in 1927, when she was only seventeen years old and while he was still entangled in an unhappy marriage to Olga Khokhlova. ‘I was an innocent girl,’ Walter remembered years later. ‘I knew nothing - either of life or of Picasso... I had gone to do some shopping at the Galeries Lafayette, and Picasso saw me leaving the Metro. He simply took me by the arm and said, “I am Picasso! You and I are going to do great things together”’ (quoted in Picasso and the Weeping Women (exhibition catalogue), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles & The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1994, p. 143). Although their relationship remained a secret for many years, her presence permeates his work of this period. Captivated by her youthful, unpredictable spirit as well as by her voluptuous physique, Picasso's renderings of Marie-Thérèse are erotically charged, often showing her in the state of sleep and carefree abandon, as in the present work. William Rubin observed: 'None of Picasso's earlier relationships had provoked such sustained, lyrical power, such a sense of psychological awareness and erotic completeness... Picasso proceeds from his intense feeling for [Marie-Thérèse]... he paints the body contemplated, loved and self-contemplating' (W. Rubin, Picasso in the Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1971, p. 138).

This contemplative quality is beautifully presented in Femme endormie, showing Marie-Thérèse in her sleep, open to the viewer's gaze. The sensuous lines that form her body and easy abandon of her posture emphasise both this sense of tranquillity and a physical acquiescence that made her such a compelling subject for the artist. Picasso shows her reclining on a bed that resembles a pedestal in its simplicity, elevating the nude to a work of art in her own right in a stylistic move that anticipates his later series of works on the subject of the artist and his model/muse. The painting also reveals Picasso thinking about his art in another way; the framed aperture with its checked curtains or drapes is reminiscent of Matisse’s paintings of women in windows of the previous decade and indicative of the long-term rivalry between these two masters of modern art. In making this allusion, Picasso deftly transforms this work from a seductive depiction of his young lover into a wider statement of artistic intent.