In this, as in almost all his paintings of Marie-Thérèse, Picasso sees every part of her in terms of a basic system of sensuous curves. Even the scrolling arms of the chair have been heightened and exaggerated to echo the rounded forms of the body. The abrupt right-angle of the chair's back provides an essential element of contrast. The forms given to the woman's arms are not random inventions, but echo her erotic anatomy of hip and thigh. In the right arm Picasso presents a view of this anatomy on a reduced scale, seen from the other side: a view of rounded buttocks and the back of the thighs. This kind of double, or metamorphic, image is often found in Picasso's work of this time. The other arm presents an even more intimate view, as if of the model lying on her back with legs apart exposing the v-shaped genital area, just above which Picasso has placed an extraordinary passage of thick, creamy, sensually applied, white paint. The hand of the white, right arm resembles the wing of a dove, a reading given credence by the photograph mentioned above, and it is clear that Picasso sometimes associated Marie-Thérèse with doves with all their traditional romantic connotations (not least, of course, their status as attributes of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite). The association with doves is possibly also echoed in the beautiful, soft, mauvish dove-grey in which Picasso has painted the thighs and torso. The face is also a double, or metamorphic image. The white side, with Marie-Thérèse's yellow-blond hair, is a full face view, the eye half-closed. The blue side is a profile view, as of a personage leaning over the back of the chair staring intently, and kissing her on the lips. In this reading the blue arm would also belong to this personage. Here Picasso has created, in a way only possible through the freedom of Cubism, an ideal image of human love as a perfect merging of two bodies into one. As such it has a significance as universal as Rodin's 'The Kiss' [Tate Gallery N06228], but this universal image is given additional force by the deeply personal nature of its inspiration.
Simon Wilson, Tate Gallery: An Illustrated Companion, Tate Gallery, London, revised edition 1991, p.170