Guitar on a Table, a painting by legendary Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, has sold at auction for $37.1 million, after sitting for three decades at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
Created by Picasso in 1919, the cubist painting – part of the personal collection of CBS founder William S. Paley from 1946 until his death in 1990 – sold via Sotheby’s for the astonishing sum on Monday (November 14).
Since 1990, the piece had been looked after by the New York Museum of Modern Art.
The painting depicts, as its name suggests, a guitar on a table, though in the avant-garde cubism style pioneered by Picasso in the early 20th century.
Picasso’s distorted take on reality makes it hard to ascertain the type of instrument he used as his subject, though we interpret it as an acoustic guitar, owing to what looks like a quadrilateral soundhole. Only four tuning machines can be seen, though a bass guitar is off the table – pardon the pun – as the bass was first invented by Paul Tutmarc in the ‘30s.
The painting was expected to sell for $25 million, but far exceeded that figure.
Guitar on a Table was part of a wider auction hosted by Sotheby’s selling artwork from Paley’s collection. Other items included Joan Miró’s 1949 abstract Painting, which sold for $1.4 million, again far exceeding its $700,000 – $1 million estimate.
Guitars were the subject of many more Picasso works, including one of his most famous, The Old Guitarist, an oil painting created between late 1903 and early 1904 depicting an elderly man playing an acoustic guitar.