Christie's to offer 1943 Picasso masterpiece
April 10, 2018: Auction house Christie’s is offering Pablo Picasso’s Le Marin (October 28, 1943) in the May 15 Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art. Executed at the height of Occupation, Le Marin, widely recognized as Picasso himself, clad in his iconic striped fisherman’s jersey, offers one of the most profound and revealing views into the artist’s wartime psyche.
Created only weeks after the most dangerous crisis Picasso faced in World War II, Le Marin reflects the artist's emotional and psychological distress. In 1944 Picasso said, "I have no doubt that the war is in the paintings I have done." Perhaps no painting which he made during the Occupation more directly conveys this feeling than Le Marin. At the outbreak of the war Picasso elected to stay in France, despite offers to move to Mexico and the United States, expressing at the time that "Most certainly, it is not a time for a creative man to fail, to shrink or to stop working".
Although Picasso was a Spanish citizen, the decision to stay in France required a great deal of courage. As the painter of Guernica, he was an internationally recognized anti-fascist. In a speech, Hitler had denounced him by name. German agents regularly visited his studio in search of incriminating evidence, during which they insulted him and destroyed his paintings. A letter found in the Archive Picasso, dated September 16, 1943 – just five weeks before he painted Le Marin – demonstrated that the Nazis planned to deport Picasso to a concentration camp.
Picasso was saved by the intervention of friends, Dubois and Cocteau, and especially by Arno Breker, Hitler's favorite sculptor, who spoke to Hitler on the artist's behalf. Estimated in the region of $70 million, this masterpiece is set to realize one of the five highest prices for the artist at auction.