Picasso, Magritte feature in Christie's February auctions

Mon Jan 13, 2014 6:28am EST
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - A Picasso portrait of his lover and eventual wife Jacqueline Roque and a canvas by Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte are among the star attractions of February auctions that Christie's said on Monday could net almost $380 million.

Christie's estimated that those works and others to be sold in four auctions on February 4-5 and a fifth on February 7 in London could raise between 156.7 million and 228.3 million pounds ($260 million-$376 million).

The Picasso, entitled "Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil" (Woman in a Turkish costume seated in a chair), 1955, is valued at 15-20 million pounds and is on sale for the first time in 55 years, Christie's said in a press release.

The painting is one of a small group of portraits by Pablo Picasso showing Roque in the costume of an "odalisque", a woman of the harem. It is "a colorful, sexually charged celebration of Jacqueline, whom Picasso would marry six years later and who would become one of the most important muses of the artist's life", the release said.

Magritte's "Les chasseurs au bord de la nuit" (The hunters at the edge of night), 1928, was part of an exhibition of the painter's works at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and has an estimated value of 6-9 million pounds, Christie's said.

The Picasso is the centerpiece of an Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Auction on February 4 while the Magritte is in The Art of The Surreal Auction on the same day.

"This stellar sale presents international collectors and institutions with rare opportunities to acquire exceptional works with illustrious provenance by key impressionist and modern masters," Jay Vincze, Christie's International Director and head of its Impressionist and Modern Art Department, said in the release.

"The global market for this category continues to expand and deepen year on year, underpinned by passion for the beauty of the period and an increasingly far-reaching appreciation and understanding of the importance of late 19th century and early 20th century art movements."   Continued...

Workers pose with Pablo Picasso's "Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil", a portrait of his lover Jacqueline Roque painted in 1955, at Christie's auction house in London January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Winning