He is gifted and already recognized. His first exhibition at Vollard's begins on 25 June. He lives at 130 Boulevard de Clichy with Pedro "Pere" Mañach who is his broker and introduces his artworks to Berthe Weill.
On November 5 in New York, Sotheby's sells La gommeuse, oil on canvas 81 x 54 cm, lot 26.
The woman is visible down to her lower hips. She is nude by her job and not for pleasure even though her disillusioned gaze may also be attributed to absinth. Her attitude with raised shoulders and hanging breasts is miserable though she is not slender.
The title is an additional mockery. In the previous century, a gommeur was a type of ridiculous character trying to make his living by performing in the cafés-concerts. The word was later applied to women.
Art is more important. Behind Pablo's gommeuse, we see the lower part of a painting on the wall showing the legs of a ballerina along with a flower throwing. The artist is attracted and repelled by the cabaret world that ultimately is not his. The gommeuse does not watch the painting.
Pablo had here an intention for caricature which is expressed with more fancy on the recently uncovered back side of that painting. The nude body of a ballerina is surmounted by the head of Mañach according to the principle of these portraits-charges which were so popular at that time in the Parisian society.
This back also has an inscription to his friend on the occasion of his feast. If this date is interpreted as St. Peter's day, this dedication allows to date the back on 29 June 1901. The front side should logically be earlier than the sketched reverse, making this gommeuse one of the triggering prototypes of the blue period.
The importance of this painting in the history of Picasso's creativity is undeniable. The estimate is not published by Sotheby's but a price around $ 60M would not be surprising.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
SOLD for $ 67M including premium