Containing a miniature cubist portrait of photographer, painter and poet, Dora Maar, the ring was presented to her by Picasso after they quarreled. His lover and muse, Maar had persuaded Picasso to exchange one of his artworks for a ruby ring. After Picasso grew irritated with her over the deal Maar tossed the cabochon gem into the Seine.
Guilt-ridden, Picasso fashioned the ring some time between 1936 and 1939 as a romantic gesture to win back his love’s affections. Maar held onto it until she died in 1997 even after Picasso ended their relationship in 1943 when he took up with Françoise Gilet, a 21-year-old artist.
Following Maar’s death, the ring was sold as part of her estate for £100,000. The buyer only wore it on a few occasions and will now auction the piece at Sotheby’s on 21 June. Remarking on the uniqueness of the item, Sotheby’s curator, Thomas Bompard, said “Picasso has depicted a world on a scale so intimate you can hold an entire artistic vision on your finger”.
With a reputation as a womaniser, Picasso had a great many muses. Before Maar, he had an affair with Marie-Thérèse Walter. When the two women asked him to choose between them Picasso said they would have to fight for his love and they wrestled in his studio.