Picasso’s $115 million naked girl painting and its place in the #MeToo movement
A recent Christie's sale sparks decades-old allegations about the painter's misbehavior
May 11, 2018
One of Picasso’s most expensive paintings to date has recently been sold at a Christie’s auction in New York at a staggering price of $115 million.
The painting called “Fillette à la Corbeille Fleurie” depicting a naked girl holding a basket of flowers was part of the auction house’s “Live Like a Rockefeller” week of sales, which includes a number of prized possessions from the collection of New York’s renowned philanthropists and collectors, David and Peggy Rockefeller.
Little is known of the painting’s subject who Picasso himself was believed to have nicknamed Linda, for various perceived reasons including one that explains how in Spanish the name translates to “pretty”.
The painting is also controversial because of its lewd depiction of then pubescent Linda as it is because of what it represents today in the wake of recent sexual harassment allegations against well-known personalities.
Picasso himself was rumored to have punched one of his muses and threatened to put a cigarette on the face of another. These incidents along with some other equally scandalous bouts that transpired throughout the career of the painter were included in Arianna Huffington’s 1988 biography of Picasso entitled Picasso: Creator and Destroyer.
In the same year that her book was published, Huffington also went on to write on the history of violence of Picasso in The Atlantic where she painted the brutal relationship between the painter and his mistress, Henrietta Theodora Markovitch who goes by Dora Maar:
War was in his pictures—not this war, not any particular war, but the darkness and the anger and the hatred that cause wars. In June the German army marched into Royan and Picasso painted one of his most brutal and vengeful images of womanhood: Dora as the Nude Dressing Her Hair. The brutality was no less present in his life. He often beat Dora, and there were many times when he left her lying unconscious on the floor. The transformation of the princess into a toad and of sensuality into horror was complete. And in the dog-face portraits he painted of Dora, he completed the transformation of woman into servile animal. As the art historian Mary Gedo put it, Dora, like his Afghan hound Kazbek, “came whenever he whistled.” More than two-thirds of his work during 1939 and 1940 consisted of deformed women, their faces and bodies flayed with fury. His hatred of a specific woman seemed to have become a deep and universal hatred of all women.
According to the Christie’s website, the painting along with three other of its kind from Picasso’s Rose Period was part of Gertrude Stein’s collection prior to being in the hands of the Rockefellers, who acquired it in behalf of the Museum of Modern Art in 1968.
The most expensive Picasso to ever be auctioned at Christie’s was sold in 2015 for $179 million. The painting called “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’)” is reminiscent of Picasso’s cubist signature style.
Photos courtesy of Christie’s Auction House
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