Picasso painting from WWII set to sell for millions in Canadian auction
Published Sunday, October 27, 2019 10:00PM EDT
TORONTO -- A painting done by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso is coming to an auction in Toronto next month. Painted in Paris during the Second World War, the piece of art is expected to sell for the highest amount ever paid for an international work of art in Canada.
The painting is called “Femme au chapeau,” which loosely translates to “Woman in hat,” and is a portrait of Dora Maar, an artist who inspired many paintings during her nine-year relationship with Picasso.
The portrait is expected to fetch between eight to ten million dollars, which would be the highest amount ever paid for a work of its kind in Canada.
It was acquired from a European collection, according to a press release put out by Heffel Fine Art Auction House, who are handling the painting. The release also said that this is the first time the canvas has been shown in Canada.
David Heffel, president of the auction house, said that the painting has political undertones, using the image of Maar to symbolically reflect the times the two were living through.
“Dora Maar really for him was his metaphor for Nazi occupation of Paris,” Heffel said.
Maar is often reduced to simply Picasso’s muse in history’s eyes, but she was an accomplished photographer known for her Surrealist work before she even met Picasso. After their abusive relationship ended, she would turn her focus to painting in private, although these works were not discovered until after her death in 1997.
Picasso completed “Femme au chapeau” in June of 1941, the year after Paris fell to the Nazis. Art historians said that the exact date of the painting was even more interesting in the context of what was unfolding in the city.
“The painting is dated June 13, 1941… That's the date the Vichy French government began deporting Jews outside of France,” Heffel said.
While Maar and Picasso were not Jewish, his gallery owner was and had to flee Paris.
“There's great anxiety and tension in the city of Paris at the time,” said art historian Rob Surdu. “[Picasso’s] paintings tend to reflect that kind of dissonance.”
Picasso’s “Femme au chapeau,” is currently on tour through Canada. The painting began its tour in Calgary, and is currently in Vancouver until Oct 29.
It will visit Montreal as well before being auctioned off in Toronto on November 20.
With a report from CTV’s Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks.