Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Valette believes there may be another message hidden in the painting. That year, Picasso began an affair with Francoise Gilot, a student 40 years his junior.”I wonder if in this picture he is representing his new love in a secret way. It is a very sensual picture in a body of work that is quite masculine and sombre.”The seller of the painting wishes to remain anonymous. Valette said: “After 40 years or so people need to organise their affairs. But it is definitely a picture which has been very much loved.”The March 1 sale includes a £35 million flower painting by Gustav Klimt, a Modigliani, a Gauguin and three other Picassos. A Cecil Beaton photograph from the time was taken in Picasso’s studio and shows him standing beside several masterpieces, including the tomato picture. It has had just two owners.Shown in New York once the war was over, it was bought in 1947 by Stephen Carlton Clark, heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune and founder of the Baseball Hall of Fame.A private collector purchased it in 1976 following Clark’s death and is now selling it at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sales in London on March 1 for £10-15 million. In the summer of 1944, Picasso was living with his lover, Marie-Therese, on the Boulevard Henri IV. Tomato plants were a common sight on windowsills and balconies in the city.Samuel Valette, senior specialist in Impressionist and Modern Art, said: “The light and colour in the picture represent the idea that there was light at the end of the tunnel. The Liberation of Paris was just around the corner.”Picasso could not exhibit any pictures during the war years because he was considered a degenerate artist by the Nazis. He was already at this time a superstar. He could have fled Paris but clearly for him it was an act of resistance to continue his life there.” Picasso’s painting of the tomato plant in bloom in the apartment he shared with his lover Marie-ThérèseCredit:Sotheby’s A Picasso painting of the tomato plant that grew on his windowsill during the Nazi occupation of Paris is to go under the hammer with an estimate of up to £15 million.The still life represents both the privations of war – Parisians were forced to grow their own produce because food was scarce – and, with its vibrant colour and ripe fruit, the resilience of the human spirit.The artist painted it in the summer of 1944, weeks before the city was liberated. Blacklisted by the Nazis, he was banned from exhibiting his wartime work in public.
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