Catalogue entry

Pablo Picasso 1881-1973

T00341 Dora Maar assise (Dora Maar seated) 1938

Inscribed 'Picasso | 13.5.38' t.r.
Pen and ink, watercolour, gouache and oil on paper mounted on canvas, 27 1/8 x 17 1/2 (69 x 44.5); a further 3/16 (0.5) on each edge covered by binding paper
Purchased from the Zwemmer Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1960
Prov: Dora Maar, Paris; with Berggruen, Paris, c.1956 with Arthur Tooth and Sons, London, 1957; E. Teltsch, London, 1958; with Zwemmer Gallery, London, c.1959
Exh: Picasso, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, November-December 1956 (182, repr.); Corot to Picasso, Arthur Tooth and Sons, London, July-September 1957 (16, repr.); Christmas Exhibition, Zwemmer Gallery, London, December 1959 (no catalogue)
Lit: Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso (Paris 1958), Vol.9, No.152, repr. pl.75
Repr: Burlington Magazine, XCIX, June 1957, advertisement supplement pl.22

A portrait of the painter and photographer Dora Maar, who was Picasso's companion and favourite model in the late 1930s and the war years. Born in Paris, the daughter of a Croatian architect and a French mother, she studied painting at various art schools in Paris, including under André Lhote, and exhibited with the Surrealist group, then gave up painting for a time and became a photographer and reporter. Picasso first met her in the autumn of 1935. He began to draw portraits of her when he was staying at Mougins in 1936, and from then on, in the words of Sir Roland Penrose, 'her face became more and more an obsession at the basis of his inventions and reconstructions of the human head'.

Whereas Marie-Thérèse Walter, with whom his relationship continued at the same period, was of a placid, even temperament, Dora Maar was both intelligent and very highly strung. The distortions and displacements of her features in some of these pictures may be said to reflect her changing moods as well as Picasso's reactions to the worsening tensions of the Spanish Civil War and the events leading up to the Second World War.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.607, reproduced p.607