Christie’s New York is gearing up to launch its first major evening sale this fall revolving around 20th/21st century art. Leading the lot is a 1941 portrait painting by Pablo Picasso that is expected to sell for $20-$30 million USD. Picasso made the work in his Paris studio during World War II.

Titled Femme dans un fauteuil, the work portrays surrealist French photographer Dora Maar, whom Picasso met back in 1936. Picasso’s portraits featuring Maar are highly-sought after by collectors. His seated portrait titled Dora Maar au chat (1941) sold for $95.2 million USD at Sotheby’s in May 2006. She also inspired his famous “Weeping Woman” series, and the artist once expressed “For years I painted her in tortured forms.”

“By turns anguished and lyrical, aggressive and despondent, the works all share an urgency, making them as much expressions of Picasso’s state of mind as portraits of Dora,” said Conor Jordan, Christie’s deputy chairman of Impressionist and modern art, of the series in a statement. “Sequestered in the cool light and pressing angles of the attic space, Dora is depicted on a grand scale as proud and unbending, an image of stately defiance, a modern Marianne.”

Christie’s New York‘s 20th/21st century art evening sale will launch on October 6. Picasso’s portrait of Dora Maar is among several prized works in the sale that features pieces by Paul Cézanne, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Joan Mitchell.

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