Painting by Picasso from the estate of Sir Sean Connery will lead Christie's Hong Kong sale

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Painting by Picasso from the estate of Sir Sean Connery will lead Christie's Hong Kong sale
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Buste d’homme dans un cadre, signed ‘Picasso’ (upper left); dated ‘29.3.69’ (on the reverse), oil on canvas, 92 x 73 cm. (36 ¼ x 28 ¾ in.) Painted in Mougins on 29 March 1969. Estimate on Request. © Christie's Images Ltd 2022.

HONG KONG.- Christie’s announced Pablo Picasso’s Buste d’homme dans un cadre from the Estate of Sir Sean Connery, as a leading highlight of the 20th and 21st Century Art Evening Sale to take place on 26 May at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (estimate on request; in the region of HK$150 million/ US$19 million). Offered fresh to the market and extraordinary among Picasso’s late works for its orderly composition, graceful, decisive lines, and intensity of expression, this seminal canvas is one of the finest and most striking of the artist’s paintings from the last decade of his life.

Stephane Connery, son of Sir Sean Connery, remarked, “Sean had an extraordinary sense of aesthetics, composition and movement honed by his career in a visual medium as well as his long marriage to Micheline, a fine and internationally exhibited painter. Further, he truly enjoyed visiting museums which sharpened his discerning eye. Our last visits included the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Barnes Collection, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., shortly before he decided to purchase "Buste d'homme dans un cadre". He loved and owned numerous works by Picasso, and upon seeing "Buste d'homme dans un cadre" he was captivated by its expressive power and freedom. It seems fitting that this work would be sold in Asia as Sean had a tremendous affinity for Asia and its culture.

Before Sean passed away in 2020, he allocated a sizable portion of his estate to be used for philanthropic purposes. We — his family — are now working to create a fund that will offer support to organisations that reflect Sean’s interests and passions, and serve to keep his legacy of integrity, opportunity and effectiveness alive. These efforts will be focused in Scotland, where Sean was born, and the Bahamas, where he lived for over 30 years and adored like his homeland.”

Adrien Meyer, Co-Chairman of Impressionist & Modern Art, Christie’s, remarked: “It is a privilege for Christie’s to have been entrusted by the family of Sir Sean Connery with the sale of this fabulous Picasso self-portrait. No wonder is it that a titan of the film industry was drawn to this tour de force by the greatest modern art titan of all. Appearing at auction for the first time, this is simply one of the best works by the artist of his late period to ever come to market.”

Elaine Holt, Deputy Chairman and International Director, Christie’s Asia Pacific, commented, “ “Buste d’homme dans un cadre” is without a doubt one of Picasso’s best “musketeers”. Enhancing its importance is its incomparable provenance, which bound together the two icons of the 20th Century – the great Picasso, and Sir Sean Connery - a giant of the silver screen and art connoisseur extraordinaire. It is indeed Christie’s pride and honour to present this exceptional work, its world auction debut, in Asia in our Spring Evening sale.”

Buste d’homme dans un cadre is an epic representation of Picasso’s iconic musketeer motif: the pan-European, 17th Century swashbuckling archetype of masculinity, deriving its inspiration from celebrated golden age master painters such as Rembrandt and Velázquez, and literary giants Shakespeare and Dumas. In this painting, the sitter bears the gaze of Picasso’s own intense black eyes, sporting a goatee worthy of the Cardinal Richelieu, a literary nemesis in Dumas’ famed novel The Three Musketeers which Picasso re-read in 1966, sparking his inspiration for the series. In Picasso’s version of Cardinal Richelieu in the present work, the subject displays an affable flair, through an intensely colourful palette depicting his distinctive hair and facial features; the strong gaze and wide collar of his costume recall the directness and intensity of Rembrandt’s self-portraits.

In this work, the style of paint application is indebted much more to Vincent van Gogh: dense swirling strokes of paint emanate throughout, curling within his ruff, around his head and even up over the top of the painted frame—whereupon Picasso modernises the clever trompe l’oeil compositional device—referencing the ornate gilt of Baroque ornamentation in a playful bright yellow, energetically articulated with rapid, gestural strokes and scrawls of black, white, and sable, reminiscent of Van Gogh’s unruly sunflowers and strong winds on wheat fields.

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