AN EARLY Picasso painting that was once owned by the American writer Gertrude Stein is expected to fetch at least $25m (pounds 16m) at auction later this year after being put on the market by its anonymous owners.
The portrait, Femme aux bras croisees (Woman with folded arms), from Picasso's Blue period, was unveiled in London yesterday as part of a short pre-sale tour that takes in Zurich, Tokyo, Taipei and finally Los Angeles.
The melancholy painting is due to be sold by Christie's during a sale of Impressionist and Modern Art in New York in November, where the auctioneers expect its price to exceed $25m.
The tour of lots, which will be on show at Christie's in London tomorrow and on Monday, also includes an Edouard Manet, Pivoines dans une bouteille, Henri Fantin-Latour's romantic Bouquet de roses et d'autres fleurs, a Claude Monet, Cap d'Antibes, and a small gouache on paper by Rene Magritte, Les Chateaux des Pyrenees.
Picasso painted Femme aux bras croisees in 1902 during his period in Barcelona between 1900 and 1904.
Then aged 21, he was part of a circle of young avant-garde Symbolist artists and writers in the city who espoused political anarchy and sympathised with bohemians, alcoholics and the underclasses.
After his closest friend, Carlos Casagemas, committed suicide, Picasso began using blues almost exclusively.
This monochromatic style was rarely used in Spain and France, as it was associated with sadness and also despair.
Elizabeth Cowling, an art historian at Edinburgh University and co-curator of the recent retrospective Picasso: Sculptor and Painter, said the painting also reflected the artist's visits to see syphilitic prostitutes in the St Lazare hospital in Paris. …