In Baigneuse et cabine de bains, the figure is both voluptuous and angular - possessing the features of both Dora Maar and Marie-Thérèse Walter - and it is this conflation of their characteristics which is central to the artist’s work. According to Françoise Gilot, during the creation of Guernica, and unable to endure the situation any longer, Marie-Thérèse confronted Dora in the artist's Grands-Augustins studio. Claiming her right to him as the mother of his child, Marie-Thérèse demanded that Dora leave. Dora refused and they continued to argue while Picasso painted on, undisturbed. Eventually Marie-Thérèse appealed to Picasso to decide, but he could not, later commenting: ‘It was a hard decision to make. I liked them both, for different reasons: Marie-Thérèse because she was sweet and gentle and did whatever I wanted her to, and Dora because she was intelligent… I told them they have to fight it out themselves. So they began to wrestle’ (quoted in Mary Anne Caws, Dora Maar With & Without Picasso – A Biography, London, 2000, p. 113). Picasso later claimed that this incident was ‘one of [his] choicest memories’. This struggle continued in Picasso's dynamic representations of the female figure in which the features of both his lovers are combine in expressive lines.
The present work belonged to Lydia Winston Malbin, who was well known for her active support of the arts and her own extraordinary collection of Modern European art. Together with the Guggenheim’s first director Hella Rebay, Malbin organised Detroit’s first ever exhibition of Abstract art in 1940 and at the time of her death in 1989 was a member of the acquisitions committee of the Whitney Museum, New York. Lydia was married to her first husband Harry Lewis Winston and living in Michigan when she acquired the present work; she would keep it for the rest of her life.
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