LA Minotauromachie from 1935 is arguably the masterpiece of the Pablo Picasso's 2000 or so different printed works.
Executed in a rare period when he stopped painting and at a time
when his marriage was in trouble and his young mistress pregnant,
it seems to prefigure the emotional turmoil found in his famous
monumental canvas Guernica, which he painted two years
later and used many of the same motifs.
La Minotauromachie is also particularly scarce.
Unusually among Picasso prints, the artist apparently never
intended to produce it as a completed edition and distribute it
Instead only around 50 copies were printed (there is some
confusion as to the actual number) and about 25 of them remained in
the artist's possession when he died.
So, when one of these latter prints appeared at
Sotheby's (25/20/12% buyer's premium) in London on
September 16, considerable interest arose, particularly as nearly
all recorded examples are now tied up in either public or
well-established private collections.
The 19½ x 2ft 3in (50 x 69cm) etching was an impression in the
print's final (seventh) state and, in good condition, it was
estimated at £400,000-600,000.
It attracted strong competition and sold to an anonymous buyer
at £1.1m hammer - the joint highest auction price ever for a print
along with two Edvard Munch (1863-1944) prints: Madonna,
which sold at Bonhams in London in July, and Vampire II,
which sold at Oslo saleroom Grev Wedels Plass Auksjoner in November
2007 for 11.8m Norwegian Kroner.
By Alex Capon