Depicted in the present work as a modern deity, Jacqueline’s strong features, her prominent profile, dark hair and eyes feature in much of the art Picasso made during these joyful years. Earlier portrayals often depict Jacqueline with her abundant hair covered by a colourful headscarf. The present work is painted by Picasso over an empreinte, a process invented by Picasso himself in which he would carve and model a plaster mould that would then be pressed into clay to create vibrant textures and colours. In many of the works executed by Picasso over this period, Jacqueline is not named as the subject, although she is immediately recognisable from her raven-black hair and striking features.
Jacqueline becomes part of the dialogue between artist and muse, a particular feature of Picasso’s later work. As Marie-Laure Bernadac explains: ‘It is characteristic of Picasso, in contrast to Matisse and many other twentieth-century painters, that he takes as his model – or as his Muse – the woman he loves and who lives with him, not a professional model. So what his paintings show is never a ‘model’ of a woman, but woman as model. This has its consequences for his emotional as well as artistic life: for the beloved woman stands for ‘painting’, and the painted woman is the beloved: detachment is an impossibility. Picasso never paints from life: Jacqueline never poses for him; but she is there always, everywhere. All the women of these years are Jacqueline, and yet they are rarely portraits. The image of the woman he loves is a model imprinted deep within him, and it emerges every time he paints a woman’ (M.-L. Bernadac in Late Picasso (exhibition catalogue), Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris & Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 78).
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