Christie’s is proud to announce a special highlight of its Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on 4 May: Les enfants et les jouets, an extraordinary work by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) painted in the spring of 1901 when the artist was only 19 years old and in his first flush of commercial success. The subject is among the earliest and most elaborate of the artist’s depictions of small children to be finished as a full-fledged oil painting. Estimated at US$ 5.5 - 7.5 million, this brilliantly painted work is the second major oil from this early period in Picasso’s career to reach the auction block this year. In February, Christie’s London fetched US$ 7.8 million (£4.9 million) for the artist’s Sur l'impériale traversant la Seine, a 1901 painting consigned from the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Both paintings are among an important group of works Picasso created in a flurry of creative inspiration as he adjusted to life in Paris and prepared for his first major exhibition at the gallery of the influential Parisian art dealer Ambroise Vollard.
Conor Jordan, Senior Vice President and Head of Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie’s Americas, comments: “This scene of two small children amidst their toy horses and dolls is a work of irrepressible painterly élan. Picasso’s innate skill as a draftsman and his newfound excitement at the coloristic innovations of the Parisian avant-garde are evident in this work. Even at this early stage of his career, his searching eye found obvious enjoyment in the interaction of two infants, a theme he was to revisit throughout his legendary career.”