20th Century Art in 20 Unforgettable Works: Picasso’s ‘Femme à la montre’

New York | 8 November 2023

Emily Fisher Landau was, simply put, one of the greatest collectors and patrons of the twentieth century. Her legacy is set apart for her deep and longstanding involvement with leading institutions, in particular the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as her profound engagement with the art and artists of her time and her unerring instinct as a collector at the highest level. Fisher Landau assembled one of the greatest collections of modern and contemporary art – over 100 works of which are coming to auction at Sotheby’s on 8–9 November.

Join us over the next 20 days leading up to the Emily Fisher Landau Evening Auction on 8 November as our specialists spotlight 20 key works from the Collection, celebrating their impact on twentieth-century art. Here, Simon Shaw reflects on the significance of Pablo Picasso’s Femme à la montre as part of our series The Emily Fisher Landau Collection: Twentieth Century Art in Twenty Unforgettable Works.

Executed in 1932 at the pinnacle of Picasso’s impassioned affair, Femme à la montre exists as one of the most resolved and complex depictions from this highly charged year. The rapturous period from which Femme à la montre originates has been described by the artist’s biographer John Richardson as Picasso’s annus mirabilis or ‘year of wonders.’ In 1932, Picasso worked at a feverish pace, ceaselessly inspired by his new muse’s presence and the longing felt in her absence. Utterly consumed by his amour fou – the Surrealist notion of an obsessional, vortex-like desire – each work from this period reads like an entry in a diary, documenting the pair’s evolving relationship. Among the artist’s 1932 works, it is the monumental canvases like Femme à la montre, which unapologetically announce Marie-Thérèse’s presence, that are most widely acclaimed for their singular importance in Picasso's oeuvre.

More from 20th Century Art in 20 Unforgettable Works

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.