We’re a few months out from the New York sales in November, but we’re already starting to hear word of consignments at the auction houses. Today brings word that Christie’s has nabbed Picasso’s Femme accroupie (Jacqueline), a portrait the artist made of his muse Jacqueline Roque on October 8, 1954, in his studio in the south of France—a work that has never been sold at auction. Its inaugural bow is estimated to attract bidding in the league of $20 million to $30 million.
“This painting of Jacqueline hung in Picasso’s private collection for many years and has rarely been seen in public since 1954,” Jussi Pylkkanen, Christie’s global president, said in an announcement. “It is a museum-quality painting on the grand scale which will capture the imagination of the global art market when it is offered.”
The hours of October 8, 1954 were productive for Picasso, who completed a total of three portraits of Roque that day, each with a distinctive take on her sitting in his Vallauris studio. It may be a collector’s last chance to get one of the paintings made that day, as another, Femme accroupie, sold at Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern evening sale in London last June for £7.4 million ($9.3 million). The third, Jacqueline assise, is in the Museo Picasso in Malaga, Spain.
“Picasso embarked on his late, great period, which his biographer John Richardson succinctly defined and characterized as ‘l’époque Jacqueline,’ ” said Jessica Fertig, senior vice president at Christie’s and head of the evening sale. “It is Jacqueline’s image that dominates Picasso’s work from 1954 until his death, longer than any of the women who preceded her.”
The sale will go down at Christie’s headquarters in New York’s Rockefeller Center November 13.