Galleria La Medusa, Rome
Stanley John Allen (sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 20, 1982, lot 250)
Kurt DelBanco, New York (acquired at the above sale)
Galeria Elvira Gonzalez, Madrid
Galerie Beyeler, Basel
Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Oeuvres de 1939 et 1940, Paris, 1959, vol. X, no. 532, illustrated pl. 154 (noting a later signature)
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture. Europe at War, 1939-1940, San Francisco, 1998, no. 40-437, illustrated p. 206
Picasso's war-time depictions of Dora Maar are among the most famous of his oeuvre and have come to symbolize the collective emotions of that era. Daringly abstract, these pictures have a certain tragic beauty and power of presence that few other portraits in Picasso's vast repertoire were able to achieve. The present work, completed in the early summer of 1940 at the artist's studio in Royan, is one of his more powerful compositions.
Dora Maar's relationship with Picasso is one of the most dramatic love stories in the history of 20th century art. Picasso met Maar, the Surrealist photographer, in the autumn of 1935 and became enchanted by the young woman's powerful sense of self and commanding presence. In the eight years that followed, Maar was Picasso's principal model and the subject of some of his most iconic portraits. For nearly a decade their partnership was one of intellectual exchange and intense passion, and Maar's influence on Picasso over these years resulted in some of his most exciting portraits of his long career.
Picasso's many portraits of Maar, including the present painting, were highly stylized and imaginative but did not entirely eliminate her identifiable features. Her flaring nostrils and dark eyes betray her fiery personality, yet the startling reorganization of her face evidences the great liberties the artist took in manipulating her image. In the years that followed the completion of this compelling picture, Picasso's relationship with Maar would become increasingly strained. Maar's strong-willed personality and her penchant for the dramatic, which had initially amused the artist, grew to infuriate him. The present work, painted at the height of this time, is a testament to the energy and emotion inspired by this extraordinary woman.
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