dated 27D. XXXVI. (lower left) and with the Dora Maar estate stamp (lower right)
oil, gouache, pencil and watercolour on paper
Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, œuvres de 1932 à 1937, Paris, 1957, vol. 8, no. 316, illustrated pl. 148
The Picasso Project, Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture: Surrealism, 1930-1936, San Francisco, 1997, no. 36-110, illustrated p. 306
A talented photographer associated with the Surrealist movement from the early 1930s, Dora was an elegant and highly intelligent woman, a far more demanding companion than the pliant Marie-Thérèse. Photographs of Dora (fig. 1) show that she was a woman of dramatic good looks, whose beauty was all the more alluring due to an air of poetic melancholy, a quality wonderfully captured in the present composition. Her most striking features were her thick mantle of rich, black hair, and her dazzling, soulful eyes - strongly accented by mascara. Roland Penrose referred to the ‘dark, passionate eyes of Dora Maar’ (Roland Penrose, Scrap Book, London & New York, 1981, p. 88), and it was her eyes, wonderfully rendered in the present work, that most forcefully conveyed her great intelligence, romantic depth and artistic sensibility.
Picasso first met Dora Maar in January 1936, and soon she became a major part of his life. According to Françoise Gilot, ‘Pablo told me that one of the first times he saw Dora she was sitting at the Deux Magots. She was wearing black gloves with little pink flowers appliquéd on them. She took off the gloves and picked up a long, pointed knife, which she began to drive into the table between her outstretched fingers, to see how close she could come to each finger without actually cutting herself. From time to time she missed by a tiny fraction of an inch and before she stopped playing with the knife, her hand was covered with blood. Pablo told me that was what made up his mind to interest himself in her. He was fascinated. He asked her to give him the gloves and used to keep them in a vitrine at the Rue des Grands-Augustins, along with other mementos’ (Françoise Gilot, Life with Picasso, New York, 1964, pp. 85-86).
FIG. 1, Dora Maar in Picasso's studio, 1944
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