LONDON – The 1967 painting by Spain’s Pablo Picasso, “Mousquetaire et Nu Assis,” showing a manly musketeer and the sensual figure of a nude woman, was knocked down at auction in London for 13.73 million pounds ($19 million).
The oil painting by the Malaga native was the star of a double evening session of auctions at Christie’s, dedicated to impressionist and surrealist art, at which works by French artists Claude Monet and Edgar Degas also attracted the big bidders.
The Picasso was one of the first representations of musketeers and swashbuckling swordsmen that multiplied in his oeuvre through the 1960s.
Experts believe the woman at his side, with dark hair, restrained posture and beseeching eyes, was the painter’s muse and second wife Jacqueline, whom he wed in 1961.
The painter’s later career was marked by sensual paintings of himself as a virile artist beside a voluptuous lover, Keith Gill, the head of auctions at Christie’s, said in a statement.
Picasso used allegorical figures not only to create interpretations of fictional characters, but to place himself as a landmark painter in the history of art, together with the likes of Rembrandt, El Greco, Velazquez and Goya, the expert said.
In the years before his death in 1973, the Spanish artist had a sense of urgency in his work, as if trying to overcome the passage of time, according to Gill.
Another Picasso work, “Femme Se Coiffant,” (1956), in which Jacqueline again appears in a sensual pose, went to the highest bidder for 6.75 million pounds ($9.4 million), while his “Paloma” (1954) raked in 5.85 million pounds ($8.1 million).
In the session dedicated to surrealism, “Figure” by Picasso was knocked down for 8.33 million pounds ($11.6 million).