Picasso's portrait of lover, set into a ring, up for auction next week

A model poses with an oval shaped ring designed by Pablo Picasso.
A model poses with an oval shaped ring designed by Pablo Picasso. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - A tiny portrait which Pablo Picasso set into a ring to appease his lover Dora Maar after an argument will go under the hammer at Sotheby's London auction house next week.

The piece of jewellery was created by the Spanish artist after he berated Maar for convincing him to trade an artwork for a ruby ring, prompting her to throw it into the River Seine.

When she later searched unsuccessfully for the ring, Picasso went to work on creating a replacement with a miniature portrait of his muse which he set into a ring encircled with flowers.

Despite their relationship breaking down, Maar kept the ring until her death in 1997.

It is expected to fetch up to US$630,000 (S$870,000) when it is auctioned on June 21.

French artist Maar was influential in Picasso's life as he responded to the Spanish Civil War, most famously with his Guernica mural following the bombing of the town.

In his Femme en pleurs portrait, of a weeping woman following the devastating bombing raids, Picasso depicts a distraught Maar.

He continued seeing other lovers during his relationship with Maar and the pair separated in 1946.

Last month, one of Picasso's portraits of Maar sold for US$45 million in New York.