Picasso’s portrait of his mistress to fetch millions

The famous nude

A portrait of Marie-Therese Walter who transformed both the life and art of painter Pablo Picasso will go on sale at Sotheby’s in New York next week, and is expected to fetch up to 18 million pounds.

She was only 17 years old when, stepping outside the Paris Metro station one day in 1927, was approached by a stranger who said: ‘I am Picasso. You and I are going to do beautiful things together’, reports the Daily Mail.

More than 80 years later, the story of Walter and her affair with the stranger is on the way to becoming one of art’s most lucrative encounters.

This landmark painting of the teenager who became his lover is one of a series of works that Walter inspired. The last one sold at auction – ‘Nude, Green Leaves And Bust’ – made 70 million pounds.

This is the first time that ‘La Lecture’, which depicts his mistress asleep in an armchair, has been unveiled in London.

It was the painting that teasingly introduced his young Parisian muse as part of Picasso’s life and work.

He was 45 – and married – when they met in 1927, and kept their relationship secret for years.

She knew nothing about him before they met, but became one of his work’s strongest influences.

Before Christmas of 1931 and New Year of 1932, her features appeared in his paintings only in coded form.

However, this January 1932 picture uses the curves of her body to transform her into a graceful ‘sleeping beauty’, and was the first in a succession that eventually betrayed her identity.

Picasso’s wife, Olga, suddenly realised the facial features were not her own. The marriage later broke up.

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