Painted days before the liberation of Paris Picasso’s Plant de tomates comes up at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale in London on March 1. Picasso’s series of five paintings of a tomato plant in bloom in the Paris apartment he shared with his lover Marie-Thérèse are ripe with personal as well as wider political and cultural significance. Symbolic of victory in Europe they were a way of reflecting the spirit of hope and resilience that characterised this time. Estimated at £10-15 million this is the most complex and visually striking example of the war period series. This museum quality work has been in a private collection for four decades. It was sold at Sotheby’s in New York in 1976.
Samuel Valette, Sotheby’s Senior Specialist in Impressionist & Modern Art, commented: “This exceptional work by Pablo Picasso was painted at a moment of particular tension during the war: the liberation of Paris. As such, it is infused with a sense of renewed energy and hope that distinguishes it from other wartime still-lifes, which were imbued with a more sombre and dark mood. It shows that there was light at the end of the tunnel. For Picasso, the very act of continuing to paint as normal was an act of resistance, and following the Liberation, his atelier became a must-see for the allied soldiers who wanted to witness what the master had created in the war years.”