13 April 2009

The women of Picasso

Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Crispiniano de la Santísima Trinidad, or Pablo Picasso was infamous for his illustrious love affairs. Rather than spotlight Picasso himself, let's take a look at the women who inspired him, who loved him, and those who he drove mad.

Fernande was a fascinating woman who inspired many of Picasso's painting in the Rose and Blue periods, as well as some of his earliest Cubist paintings. Her journals have been published a few times and are on my reading list. There is a fabulous article you can read about this Zola-type character here.

left: "Fernande Olivier," 1905.
right: "Nude in an Armchair," summer of 1909.

Next came Marcelle Humbert, whom Picasso called Eva Gouel. She was the subject of many of his Cubist paintings.

left: "Ma Jolie" (Woman with a Zither on Guitar), 1911.
right: study for "Femme en Chemise dans un fauteuil," 1913.

Olga was a ballerina and Picasso's first wife. She introduced him to high society, but Picasso was unwilling to give up his Bohemian lifestyle. They separated but never divorced because he did not want her to gain half of his wealth in divorce. They here technically married until her death in 1955.

"Olga in an Armchair," 1918.

Marie-Therese had a long affair with Pablo. She mothered several children by him and always held high hopes that he would eventually marry her. After his death, she hung herself.

left: "Marie-Theres Walter," 1937.
right: "Marie-Therese Walter," 1937. (I love this one.)

left: "Marie-Therese Walter," 1937.
right: "Marie-Therese Walter," 1937.

Maar became Picasso's companion as she documented his creation of "Guernica." Picasso called her his "private muse."

left: "Portrait of Dora Maar," 1937.
right: "Dora Maar," 1937.

Francoise was a beautiful young art student who took up with Pablo when he was well into his 60s. She mothered two children by him- Claude and Paloma. (Paloma is an artist who has designed pieces for Tiffany's.) Anyway, Francoise couldn't handle all the women in Pablo's life. She left him and married Jonas Salk.

left: "Portrait of Francoise," 1946.
right: "Francoise Gilot with Claude and Paloma," 1951.

While Picasso had several more lovers who inspired his work, this is a nice taste. Isn't it amazing how beauty can both inspire and destroy at the same time? I can only imagine the intense emotions that filled these women's lives...And to have it all documented through the collection of one of the world's most influential and well-known artists...


  1. This is beautiful post and such a lovely collation of picasso's women. My friend Maree Dawes had just written a book of poetry on such women, hence my reason for arriving here. nice! Sarah

  2. Hi Morgan. I apologize for reaching out to you in this public way but I couldn't find an email for you on your profile. I cut and pasted this post, in its entirety, onto my own blog--yearofmagicalpainting.blogspot.com.

    I gave you full credit but wanted to write and let you know.

    Wonderful blog, by the way.