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Picasso’s ‘Woman Sitting in an Armchair’ Fetches $7.39 Million

April 4, 1989

LONDON (AP) _ An anonymous American collector paid $7.39 million at auction for an early cubist painting by Pablo Picasso, ″Woman Sitting in an Armchair,″ Christie’s auction house said.

The painting, which Picasso started in 1917 and completed in 1920, is thought to be modeled on Olga Kokhlova, daughter of a Russian general and a dancer whom Picasso met in Rome and married in 1918, Christie’s said.

The auction house said it was bought by an American collector bidding by telephone who wished to remain anonymous.

Another Picasso work, ″Woman’s Head″ painted in 1921 in the artist’s neo- classical style, sold for $5.91 million during Monday’s auction of impressionist and modern painting and sculpture.

Again, the buyer requested anonymity.

″Woman’s Head″ painted at Picasso’s villa at Fontainebleau in northern France reflects the so-called return-to-order movement after the end of World War I in 1918.

Reacting to the destruction of the war, artists, musicians and writers substituted order for disorder, calm for violence and regular forms for the shattered forms which had prevailed for 10 years or more. In Picasso’s art this took the form of a return to realism.

″Woman’s Head″ is said by art critics to reflect the deep feeling for antiquity in his Mediterranean heritage.

A work by Paul Klee, ″Uplift and Way″ painted in 1932, fetched $5.17 million and a work by Max Ernst, ″Gray Forest″ painted in 1927, sold for $1.33 million.

A work by Amedeo Modigliani, ″Young Girl in a Striped Shirt″ painted in 1917, fetched $4.62 million.

But a head-and-shoulders portrait by the French Impressionist Pierre Auguste Renoir of his model Madame Henriot painted in 1874 failed to attract a single bid. Christie’s said it had been expected to sell for between $3.02 million and $4.2 million.

Christie’s said the entire sale raised $40.99 million.

The London newspaper The Daily Telegraph, commenting on the sale prices, said: ″The soaring market in impressionist and modern pictures took a pause for breath at Christie’s... In general bidders were out to consolidate recent excess rather than advance on it.″

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