The Picasso donation

The painting

University of Sydney researchers will be able to pursue innovative new solutions to one of the 21st century’s biggest global health challenges thanks to the £13.5 million (A$20.6 million) sale of a rarely seen Picasso masterpiece at Christie’s on 21 June in London.

The painting, Jeune fille endormie, was given to the University in 2010 by an anonymous donor on the strict understanding that it would be sold and the proceeds directed to scientific research. Read the full story.

Here are some background facts about the painting.

  • Jeune fille endormie, 1935, is an intimate portrait of the artist's lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, who is the subject of many of the most celebrated paintings by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973).
  • Executed in bold, expressionist colours and brush strokes, the painting shows Marie-Thérèse asleep and offers an evocative glimpse of the lovers' intimate universe.
  • The painting has resided in just two private collections since it was painted. It was originally acquired by Walter P Chrysler Jr soon after it was painted, and then changed hands just once before it was donated to the University of Sydney in 2010.
  • It was shown at the celebrated Picasso retrospective at New York's MoMA in 1939, which toured to Chicago, St Louis and Boston in 1940. It was then included in an exhibition of works from the Chrysler Collection in 1941, and has since been hidden from view in a private collection.
  • The painting was auctioned by Christie's at its Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on 21 June 2011 in London. The proceeds of the sale of the Picasso will create multiple endowed chairs across several disciplines within a new University of Sydney multidisciplinary centre dedicated to research into obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Giovanna Bertazzoni, Director and Head of Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie's London describes the painting as follows:

"Bursting with colour and luring the viewer into the intimate sanctity of Picasso's love for Marie-Thérèse, the portrait will be offered at auction for the first time having only ever been seen in public once before."

"In recent years, as the art market has reached new collectors, there has been an explosion in the global demand for Picasso's best paintings; this was most evident last year at Christie's in New York when another portrait of Marie- Thérèse, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, sold for a world record price of $106.5 million. Marie-Thérèse is now almost the 'mythical lover' of the artist and there is a special attraction for this series by Picasso."