‘La Dormeuse’ by Pablo Picasso
‘La Dormeuse’, an oil and charcoal on canvas from 1932 by Pablo Picasso that sold for £37m at Phillips.

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The auction on March 8 was led by Pablo Picasso’s La Dormeuse, which overshot a £12m-18m estimate and was knocked down at £37m to a private collector on the phone. It was the second highest price for an individual lot sold at Phillips.

The oil and charcoal on canvas from 1932 was a timely offering, given Tate Modern’s exhibition of the artist’s works from that ‘intensely creative’ year opened on the same day.

Measuring 4ft 3in x 5ft 4in (1.3 x 1.62m), it was one of the larger examples of the string of paintings depicting his lover and muse Marie-Thérèse Walter. It came to auction from a European vendor whose family of the acquired it from Pace-Wildenstein Gallery in New York in 1995.

Overall, 44 of the 48 lots (92%) at the Phillips auction sold on the night.

Also bringing strong competition was a Henri Matisse bronze sculpture that surpassed a £5m-7m estimate and was knocked down at £13m to a private collector.

Henri Matisse sculpture

‘Nu allongé I (Aurore)’, a bronze sculpture by Henri Matisse that sold for £13m at Phillips.

Nu allongé I (Aurore) was an early cast from 1908 and was from an edition of 10 (plus one artist’s proof) and had been acquired by the vendor’s father in c.1950.

The casts are considered quintessential Matisse sculptures with Nu allongé I (Aurore) selected for the dust jacket of the book The Sculpture of Henri Matisse by Albert E Elsen, published in 1972.