- Pablo Picasso 1881–1973
- Original title
- Femme en pleurs
- Oil paint on canvas
- Support: 608 x 500 mm
frame: 847 x 739 x 86 mm
- Accepted by HM Government in lieu of tax with additional payment (Grant-in-Aid) made with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund and the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1987
Not on display
T05010 Weeping Woman 1937 Femme en pleurs
Oil on canvas 608 × 500 (23 15/16 × 19 11/16)
Inscribed ‘Picasso 37’ near centre of right edge and ‘26 October 37’ on stretcher Accepted by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue in lieu of tax with additional payment (Grant-in-Aid) and with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the National Art Collections Fund and the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1987
Prov: Sold by the artist to Roland Penrose, 9 or 10 November 1937, by whom given to Antony Penrose 1963; accepted by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue in lieu of tax 1987
Exh: Realism and Surrealism, Guildhall, Gloucester, May–June 1938 (52); Picasso's Guernica with 67 Preparatory Paintings, Sketches and Studies, New Burlington Galleries, 4–29 Oct. 1938, Oriel College Lecture Room, Oxford, Nov.–Dec. 1938, Leeds City Art Gallery, 9–23 Dec. 1938, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Dec. 1938–Jan. 1939 (8); ?a motor showroom, Victoria Street, Manchester, Feb. 1939; Picasso in English Collections, London Gallery, May–June 1939 (50, as ‘La Femme qui pleure’); Six Exhibitions: Panorama, Dartington Hall, Totnes, March–April 1940 (25, as ‘La Femme qui pleure’); private Picasso exhibition organised by Hugh Willoughby in a flat in Brighton, c.1942; 40,000 Years of Modern Art: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Academy Hall, Dec. 1948–Jan. 1949 (164); Picasso, Grande Salle des expositions de ‘La Réserve’, Knokke-Le-Zoute, Belgium, July–Aug. 1950 (46, repr. p.22 as ‘La Femme qui pleure’); Exposiçao Picasso, II Bienal II, Museu de arte moderna de São Paulo, Dec. 1953–Feb. 1954 (34, as ‘Mulher a Chorar’, repr. on front cover in col.); Cubist and Surrealist Paintings from the Collection of Mr and Mrs Roland Penrose, Peckover House, Wisbech, July–Aug. 1954 (29); Picasso: Peintures 1900–1955, Musée des arts décoratifs, Paris, June–Oct. 1955 (91, repr. as ‘La Femme qui pleure’); Picasso 1900–1955, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Oct.–Dec. 1955, Rheinisches Museum, Cologne, Dec.–Feb. 1956, Kunstverein, Hamburg, March–April 1956 (78, repr.in col.); Picasso: 75th Anniversary Exhibition, Museum of Modern Art, New York, May–Sept. 1957, Art Institute of Chicago, Oct.–Dec. 1957 (no number, repr.); Documenta II, Kassel, July–Oct. 1959 (18, repr. p.43); Picasso, Tate Gallery, July–Sept. 1960 (146, repr.pl.35a as ‘Woman Weeping’); Pablo Picasso Exhibition: Japan 1964, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, May–July 1964, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, July–Aug. 1964, Prefectural Museum of Art, Nagoya, Aug. 1964 (48, repr.); Hommage à Pablo Picasso, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, Nov. 1966–Feb. 1967 (178, repr. as ‘La Femme qui pleure’); Picasso and the Surrealists: From the Collection of Sir Roland Penrose, Fermoy Art Gallery, King's Lynn, July–Aug. 1968 (10, as ‘Woman Weeping’); Picasso, Exhibition Hall, Trinity College, Dublin, May–Aug. 1969 (22); Picassos in London: A Tribute on his 90th Birthday, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Oct.–Nov. 1971 (26, as ‘Woman Weeping’); Exposition Picasso: Japan 1977, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Oct.–Nov. 1977 (47, repr. in col. as ‘La femme qui pleure’); Pablo Picasso: A Retrospective, Museum of Modern Art, New York, May–Sept. 1980 (no number, repr. p.344 in col.); Paris-Paris 1937–1957: Créations en France, Musée national d'art moderne, Centres Georges Pompidou, Paris, May–Nov. 1981 (510, repr. p.43 in col. as ‘La Femme en pleurs’); 50 Ans d'art espagnol 1880–1936, Galerie des beaux-arts, Bordeaux, May–Sept. 1984 (81, repr. p.161 and p.61 in col. as ‘Femme en pleurs’); Suffering Through Tyranny 1933–1953, Tate Gallery, Dec. 1984–May 1985 (no number, repr. [p.2]); Homage to Barcelona: The City and its Art 1888–1936, Hayward Gallery, Nov. 1985–Feb. 1986 (189, repr. p.72, fig. 71 in col.); Treasures For the Nation: Conserving Our Heritage, British Museum, Oct. 1988–Feb. 1989 (46, repr.); Picasso: Die Zeit nach Guernica 1937–1973, Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Dec. 1992–Feb. 1993 (13, repr.in col.); Picasso and the Weeping Women: The Years of Marie-Thérèse Walter and Dora Maar, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Feb.–May 1994, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, June–Sept. 1994 (no number, repr. on front cover in col., fig.83 in col.)
Lit: Paul Haesaerts, Picasso of De Lust Tot Extremen, Amsterdam ? 1938 or 9, p.8, pl.VIII; ‘Picasso in English Collections’, Jewish Chronicle, 16 June 1939, p.50 as ‘Femme qui pleure’; Jan Gordon, ‘Commonsense and Contemporary Art’, Studio, vol.127, Jan. 1944, p.8, repr.; Christian Zervos, Exhibition of Paintings by Picasso and Matisse, exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum 1945, [p.6]; Alfred Barr, Picasso: Fifty Years of his Art, New York 1946, p.206; Maurice Raynal, History of Modern Painting: From Picasso to Surrealism, III, Geneva 1950, p.141, repr. (col); ‘World Famous Paintings on Show at Wisbech’, Isle of Ely and Wisbech Advertiser, 28 July 1954, [p.1] as ‘Woman Weeping’, repr. p.3; Norman Pickles, ‘Modern Art in Historic Setting; Picasso on North Brink’, Wisbech Standard, 30 July 1954, p.7 as ‘Woman Weeping’; Wilhelm Boeck and Jaime Sabartés, Picasso, 1955, pp.232, 325, repr. p.399; A. Bridge, ‘The Contemporary Situation’, Student Movement, vol.58, May 1956, p.5 no.5, repr. on front cover; Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, IX, Paris 1958, p.31, no.73; Roland Penrose, Picasso: His Life and Work, 1958, pp.281–2, pl.XVII; Gaston Diehl, Picasso, Paris 1960, p.54 as ‘Femme qui pleure’; John Russell, ‘London: Picasso Conquest’, Art News, vol.59, no.5, Sept. 1960, p.52; Robert Melville, ‘Afterthoughts on the Picasso Exhibition’, Architectural Review, vol.128, no.765, Nov.1960, p.374 as ‘Crying Woman’; Joyce Reeves, ‘Pablo Picasso at the Tate Gallery’, XXe Siècle, vol.22, no.15, Christmas 1960, p.119; R.H. Wilenski and Roland Penrose, Picasso: Later Years, 1961, pp.2, 4, pl.1 (col.); Gerald Eager, ‘The Missing and the Mutilated Eye in Contemporary Art’, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol.20, Fall 1961, p.57, fig.9; Rudolf Arnheim, Picasso's Guernica: The Genesis of a Painting, 1962, p.108; Keith Sutton, Picasso, 1962, p.40, pl.XXXVII (col.) as ‘Woman Weeping’; Hans Jaffé, Picasso, 1964, p.132, repr. opp.(col.); Bryan Robertson, John Russell, Lord Snowdon, Private View, 1965, p.32, repr.; Roland Penrose, Picasso, 1966, p.8, pl.XXIII (col.); Roland Penrose, The Eye of Picasso, New York 1967, p.24, pl.19 (col.) as ‘Woman Weeping’; Gula Halasz Brassai, Picasso & Company, 1967, p.45; George Hunt (ed.), ‘Special Double Issue: Picasso’, Life, vol.65, no.26, Dec. 1968, p.75, repr. p.76 (col.) as ‘La femme qui pleure’; Andre Fermigier, Picasso, Paris 1969, p.272, repr. p.270; Harold Whittall, ‘£300,000 Theft at Art Chief's Home’, Daily Mirror, 8 April 1969, [pp.1, 32], as ‘A Woman Weeping’, repr. [p.1]; Anthony Blunt, Picasso's Guernica, 1969, p.53; John Russell Taylor, ‘Costly Picassos Now Thieves’ Main Target’, and Guy Brett, ‘Sir Roland: Collector - Painter’, Times, 9 April 1969, p.8, repr.; Edward B. Henning, ‘Pablo Picasso: Fan, Salt Box, and Melon’, Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, vol.56, Oct. 1969, p.284, fig.15; Basil Taylor, ‘A Vision for the Twentieth Century’, Observer Colour Magazine, 24 Oct. 1971, p.31, repr. p.20 (col.); Jean - Paul Crespelle, ‘Les Sept Femmes de la vie de Picasso’, Elle, Paris, 1 Nov. 1971, p.92, repr. p.93 (col.) as ‘Femme qui pleure’; Roland Penrose, Picasso, 1974, p.11, repr. on front cover (col.); Norio Awazu, Picasso, Tokyo 1975, p.91, repr.; ‘Malraux's Conversations with Picasso’, Art News, vol.74, no.10, Dec.1975, p.40; Pierre Cabanne, Le Siècle de Picasso: 2. La Guerre Le Parti La Glorie L'Homme seul (1937–1973), Paris 1975, pp.28–9, repr. opp.p.40 as ‘La Femme qui pleure’; Timothy Hilton, Picasso, 1975, p.246, pl.181; Felix Andreas Baumann, Pablo Picasso: Leben und Werk, Teufen 1976, p.140, repr.pl.257 as ‘Die Weinende Frau’; André Malraux, Picasso's Mask, 1976, pp.90, 107, 120, 138; Pierre Daix, La Vie de peintre de Pablo Picasso, Paris 1977, pp.280, 282 as ‘Femme qui pleure’; Josep Palau i Fabre, El Guernica de Picasso, Barcelona 1979, p.81, fig.11; Richard Rond, ‘Who Said That Art Knows No Frontiers’, Guardian, 12 Nov.1979, p.13; Time, 26 May 1980, p.75, repr. p.73; Dominique Bozo, ‘The Artist and his Models: A Mercurial, Unceasing Analysis of the Human Face’, The Unesco Courier, Dec. 1980, p.49, repr. p.48; Mary Mathews Gedo, Picasso: Art as Autobiography, Chicago and London 1980, pp.184–6; Edgar Munhall, ‘Briefs ans New York: Picasso - Retrospektive’, Du, no.8, 1980, p.72; W.J. Weatherby, ‘Picasso Packs Them In’, Sunday Times, 25 May 1980, p.41; Gary Tinterow, Master Drawings by Picasso, exh.cat., Fogg Art Museum Cambridge, Massachusetts 1981, p.192; Roland Penrose, ‘The Weeping Woman’ in Marilyn McCully (ed.), A Picasso Anthology: Documents, Criticism, Reminiscences, 1981, p.211, repr. p.210 as ‘The Woman Weeping’; Guernica-Legado Picasso, exh. cat., Museo del Prado, Cason del Buen Retiro, Madrid 1981, p.142; Sandra Stolojan, ‘L'Oeil de la Colombe’, Esprit, Jan. 1982, p.95; Phyllis Tuchman, ‘Guernica and “Guernica”’, Art Forum, vol.21, no.8, April 1983, p.50; Richard Morphet, ‘Introduction’ in Suffering through Tyranny 1933–1953, Tate Gallery, display broadsheet, 1984, [p.1]; Gerd Betz, Pablo Picasso: Leben und Werk, Stuttgart and Zürich 1985, p.60, repr. p.62 (col.); Georges Boudaille, Marie-Laure Bernadac and Marie-Pierre Gauthier, Picasso, Paris 1985, p.100, pl.160 as ‘La Femme qui pleure’; Marilyn McCully, ‘Introduction’ in Homage to Barcelona, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery 1985, p.73; William Feaver, ‘London: Homage to Barcelona’, Art News, vol.85, no.4, April 1986, p.150; Marie-Laure Bernadac and Paule du Bouchet, Picasso: Le Sage et le fou, Paris 1986, p.115, repr. p.114 (col.) as ‘La Femme qui pleure’; Patrick McCaughey, ‘A Witness to “Guernica”: Picasso's “Weeping Woman”’, Art Bulletin of Victoria, no.27, 1986, p.76 fig.3; Ludwig Ullmann, Der Krieg im Werk Picassos: Reaktionen auf Krieg und Verfolgung, Osnabrück 1986, p.161, pl.83 as ‘Weinende Frau mit Taschentuch’; Anita Klein, ‘Imaginative Drawing: Introduction to a Five-Part Practical Course’, Artist, vol.102, no.1, Jan. 1987, p.21; Pierre Daix, Picasso créateur: La Vie intime et l'oeuvre, Paris 1987, p.267 as ‘Femme qui pleure’; Waldemar Januszczak, ‘A Picasso by the Tail’, Guardian, 13 Feb. 1987, p.19; Peter Watson, ‘Picasso Masterpiece May Be Lost to Britain’, Observer, 15 March 1987, p.5, repr. as ‘Woman Weeping’; ‘Tate to Get Picasso in Special Deal’, Independent, 2 Oct. 1987, p.l; Geraldine Norman, ‘Tate Gets Picasso Painting for £3.1m after Tax Deal’, Independent, 2 Oct. 1987, p.3; Godfrey Barker, ‘Tate to Keep Picasso in £3m Tax Deal’, Daily Telegraph, 3 Oct. 1987, p.1, repr. as ‘The Weeping Woman’; ‘Tax Deal Wins Masterpiece’, Guardian, 3 Oct. 1987, p.2; Heather Wilson and Paul Lindsell, ‘Tax-Treat Treasures’, Independent, 7 Nov.1987, p.29, repr.; ‘A Picasso Saved for Britain’, Sotheby's Preview, no.80, April/May 1988, p.12, repr. as ‘The Weeping Woman’; Arianna Stassinopoulous Huffington, ‘Picasso and His Women: Part 2 “Nobody Leaves A Man Like Me”’, Sunday Times, 26 June 1988, pp.C1–C2, repr. p.C2 as ‘The Weeping Woman’; Henri Mercillon, ‘Les Musées britanniques à l'heure de Margaret Thatcher’, Connaissance des Arts, no.440, Oct. 1988, p.130, repr. p.131 (col.); Richard Morphet, ‘Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso’, National Art Collections Fund Review 1988, 1988, pp.82–3, repr. p.82; Lord Gowrie, ‘Picture Choice: Finding the Beauty in Truth’, Independent, 8 Nov.1988, p.28, repr. as ‘The Weeping Woman’; Tate Gallery Report 1986–88, 1988, p.68, repr. p.69 (col.) and on front cover (col.); Friends of the Tate Gallery Report 1987–8, 1988, p.16, repr. and on front cover; Roy MacGregor-Hastie, Picasso's Women, 1988, p.156; Ellen C. Oppler (ed.), Picasso's Guernica, New York and London, 1988, pp.81–2, fig.73; Tom Phillips, ‘Picasso: Great Genius Brought Low’, Independent, 7 July 1988, p.15; Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington, Picasso: Creator and Destroyer, 1988, pp.237–8, fig.41; Andrew Billen, ‘The Whole World in his Hands’, Observer Colour Magazine, 29 Jan.1989, p.21, repr. p.19 (col.); Georges Boudaille, Jasper Johns, Barcelona 1989, p.22, repr. p.21; Maggie Payne, ‘Under Fives at the Tate’, Nursery World, 7 Sept. 1989, p.13, repr. and on front cover (col.); Herschel Chipp, Picasso's Guernica: History, Transformations, Meanings, 1989, p.109, fig.6.79; Danièle Boone, Picasso, 1989, p.118, repr.opp.(col.); Françoise Gilot, Matisse and Picasso: A Friendship in Art, 1990, p.189; Rosamond Bernier, Matisse, Picasso, Miró: As I Knew Them, 1991, p.149, repr.p.157 (col.); Andrew Graham-Dixon, ‘Old Masterliness’, Independent Colour Magazine, 12 Jan.1991, p.36; William Feaver, ‘Beyond Feeling’, in Lucian Freud, exh. cat., Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, Japan 1992, p.24, fig.11; Judi Freeman, ‘June to September 1937’, in Picasso and the Weeping Women: The Years of Marie-Thérèse Walter and Dora Maar, exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art 1994 pp.116–17. Also Repr: Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Paris 1938, pl.56 as ‘La Femme qui pleure’ (dated 1938); Yorkshire Post, 10 Dec. 1938, p.15; ‘Catalogue of “Picasso in English Collections”’, London Bulletin, vol.2, nos.15–16, 15 May 1939, [p.31] as ‘La Femme qui pleure’; Juan Larrea, Guernica: Pablo Picasso, New York 1947, pl.104 as ‘Woman Weeping’; Quadrum, no.7, 1959, p.7 (col.) as ‘La femme qui pleure’; ‘Picasso at the Tate’, Guardian, 6 July 1960, p.7; Frank Elgar and Robert Maillard, Picasso, 1960, [p.298]; Igor Golomshtok and Andrei Siniavskii, Picasso, Moscow 1960, p.52; J. Damase, Pablo Picasso, 1965, p.64; Michael de Castillo, André Fermigier, Jean Grenier et al., Picasso, Paris 1967, p.197 (col.); Oregonian, 9 April 1969, p.4 as ‘Woman Weeping’; G. Boudaille and R.J. Moulin, Picasso, Paris 1971, no.28 (col.); Jean Leymarie, Picasso: Métamorphoses et unité, Geneva 1971, p.107 (col.) as ‘La femme qui pleure’; Sunday Telegraph, 24 Oct. 1971, p.7; David Sweetman, Picasso, 1973, p.14; Domenico Porzio and Marcovalsecchi (eds.), introduction by John Russell, Picasso: His Life, His Art, 1974, pl.101 (col.); 10x Picasso: Eine didaktische Ausstellung zum Verständnis seiner Kunst Bilder. Fotos. Texte, exh. cat., Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf 1976, p.46; Christoph Czwiklitzer, Pablo Picasso: Plakate 1923–1973, Munich 1981, pl.82, (col.); Schweizer Illustrierte, 27 June 1988, p.140; Pierre Daix, Picasso, Chêne 1990, p.154, no.13 as ‘La femme qui pleure’; Marie-Laure Bernadac, Picasso Museum: The Masterpieces, Paris 1991, p.144; Times, 16 Dec. 1992, p.3 (col.); Art Review, vol.45, Feb. 1994, p.26 (col.)
‘Weeping Woman’ is a highly stylised and brilliantly coloured profile portrait of a grief-stricken woman. The head, hat, face, hands and handkerchief are rendered in a complex and angular structure with coloured planes of white, red, green, yellow, blue and mauve, held together with bold black outlines. Although the sitter's face is treated abstractly, with elaborate and fanciful descriptions of eyes and ears, the painting is nevertheless a recognisable portrait of the artist and photographer Dora Maar. ‘Weeping Woman’ has been exhibited and reproduced with various titles. In cataloguing the work, however, the Tate Gallery has followed the title given in the catalogue raisonné prepared by Christian Zervos with the collaboration of the artist (IX 1958), translated from the French.
T05010 was painted towards the end of October 1937 and is one of numerous works in different media that Picasso created on the theme of the weeping woman, a motif that emerged initially through studies accompanying the progress of the mural ‘Guernica’, 1937 (repr. Zervos IX 1958, p.29 no.65), but which he continued to explore for almost six months after completing the mural.
According to Herschal Chipp, Picasso produced between sixty and seventy preparatory works and postscripts to ‘Guernica’ (Chipp 1989, p.220). Of the subjects Picasso explored around the theme of Guernica the most frequently depicted image is that of a single female head, bearing an expression of anguish and engulfed in tears. The compiler has traced thirty-six unique works depicting such images, executed between May and the end of October 1937: nine paintings on canvas, twentyone drawings on paper or card, and six small drawings on matchboxes. The most extensive source of reproductions is Zervos IX 1958, which lists all but three of the drawings and four of the paintings. The largest collection of weeping woman images is held by the Spanish State and is housed at the Museo nacional Centro de arte Reina Sofia alongside ‘Guernica’. This collection includes fifteen drawings of the weeping woman and four paintings. Although all nineteen items are to be found in Zervos IX 1958, they are more accurately documented and reproduced in colour in the exhibition catalogue Guernica - Legado Picasso, Museo del Prado, Cason del Buen Retiro, Madrid 1981. The following list includes all known paintings and drawings of the weeping woman executed between May and November 1937. Over the years these images have been reproduced and exhibited under many different titles. For this reason definitive titles cannot be confirmed by the compiler and in the following list individual titles are not cited. Works are listed chronologically. Unless otherwise indicated, all works are in the Museo nacional Centro de arte Reina Sofia.
24 May 1937, pencil and gouache on paper 290 × 230 (Zervos IX 1958, no.33), repr. Madrid exh. cat., 1981, p.71
27 May 1937, pencil and gouache on paper 232 × 293 (Zervos IX 1958, no.36), repr. Madrid 1981 exh. cat., p.75
28 May 1937, pencil, crayon and gouache on paper 232 × 293 (Zervos IX 1958, no.35), repr. Madrid exh.cat., 1981, p.83
31 May 1937, pencil, crayon and gouache on paper 232 × 293 (Zervos IX 1958, no.39), repr. Madrid exh.cat., 1981, p.85
3 June 1937, pencil, crayon and gouache on paper 232 × 293 (Zervos IX 1958, no.40), repr. Madrid exh. cat., 1981, p.87
3 June 1937, pencil, crayon and gouache on paper 232 × 293 (Zervos IX 1958, no.44), repr. Madrid exh. cat., 1981, p.89
3 June 1937, pencil, crayon and gouache on paper 232 × 293 (Zervos IX 1958, no.41), repr. Madrid exh. cat., 1981, p.91
8 June 1937, pencil, crayon and gouache on paper 291 × 232 (Zervos IX 1958, no.47), repr. Madrid exh.cat., 1981, p.115
8 June 1937, pencil, crayon and gouache on paper 291 × 232 (Zervos IX 1958, no.46), repr. Madrid exh. cat., 1981, p.117
13 June 1937, pencil, crayon and gouache on paper 291 × 231 (Zervos IX 1958, no.47), repr. Madrid exh. cat., 1981, p.119
15 June 1937, pencil and gouache on board 117 × 88 (Zervos IX 1958, no.53), repr. Madrid exh. cat., 1981, p.121
15 June 1937, pencil, crayon and oil on canvas 550 × 463 (Zervos IX 1958, no.54), repr. Madrid exh. cat., 1981, p.127
16 June 1937, pencil and crayon on paper 290 × 232 Tate Gallery, T 06929 (not in Zervos)
22 June 1937, oil on canvas 550 × 463 (Zervos IX 1958, no.52), repr. Madrid exh.cat., 1981, p.123
22 June 1937, pencil and gouache on paper 640 × 495, private collection, France (not in Zervos), repr. Los Angeles exh. cat., 1994, p.77
22 June 1937, oil on canvas 550 × 460, private collection (Zervos IX 1958, no.50), repr. Los Angeles exh.cat., 1994, p.77
26 June 1937, oil on canvas 549 × 460, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Zervos IX 1958, no. 51), repr. Los Angeles exh.cat., 1994, p.81
4 July 1937, pen and ink on paper 253 × 171 (Zervos IX 1958, no.56), repr. Madrid exh.cat., 1981, p.133
4 July 1937, pen and ink on paper, 150 × 110, whereabouts not known, (Zervos IX 1958, no.55, repr. p.25)
6 July 1937, pen and ink on tan paper 152 × 115 (Zervos IX 1958, no.57), repr. Madrid exh.cat., 1981, p.135
12 Oct. 1937, pen, ink and pencil on paper 901 × 584 (Zervos IX 1958, no.74), repr. Madrid exh.cat., 1981, p.139
13 Oct. 1937, oil and ink on canvas 550 × 463 (not in Zervos), repr. Madrid exh. cat., 1981, p.141
17 Oct. 1937, oil on canvas 920 × 726 (Zervos IX 1958, no.77), repr. Madrid exh.cat., 1981, p.143
18 Oct. 1937, oil on canvas 553 × 463, Musée Picasso, Paris (not in Zervos), repr. Los Angeles exh. cat., 1994, p.112
18 Oct.1937, oil on canvas 550 × 460, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (not in Zervos), repr. Los Angeles exh. cat., 1994, p.113
24 Oct. 1937, oil and ink on paper 255 × 173, Musée Picasso, Paris (not in Zervos), repr. Los Angeles exh. cat., 1994, p.115
26 Oct. 1937, oil on canvas 608 × 500, Tate Gallery, T 05010 (Zervos IX 1958, no.73, repr. p.31)
28 Oct. 1937, oil wash and ink on paper 400 × 261, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Zervos IX 1958, no.76), repr. Los Angeles exh. cat., 1994, p.118
The following works are undated:
Crayon on paper 293 × 212, repr. Zervos IX 1958, p.32 no.75
Six drawings in crayon on matchboxes, repr. Zervos IX 1958, p.30 nos.66–8, 70–2
The Musée Picasso in Paris owns two sheets, dated 24 and 26 October 1937, on which Picasso had explored various details of the weeping woman, including eyes and handkerchiefs (repr. Los Angeles exh. cat., 1994, p.116). In addition, the Musée Picasso has a small plaster of a female head and neck, tilting backwards in a manner that is typical of the pose of the head in Picasso's drawings and paintings of the ‘Weeping Woman’ (repr. Marie Laure Bernadac, Picasso Museum: The Masterpieces, 1991, p.143). Picasso also developed the theme in various prints, which are listed by B. Baer in Picasso Peintregraveur: Catalogue raisonné, III: 1935–45, Berne 1985, nos. 623–6. For each print Picasso editioned there are various states. In addition, the image of the weeping woman features as a detail in Picasso's 1937 etching sequence entitled ‘Dream and Lie of Franco’, completed on 7 June 1937 (see below).
The subject of the weeping woman was not wholly confined to this period between May and October. One month after the completion of T05010, Picasso painted ‘Woman with Handkerchief and Striped Bodice’ (private collection, repr. Los Angeles exh.cat., 1994, p.122). A further closely related work is a small gouache and ink painting on panel entitled ‘The Suppliant’, 18 December 1937 (Musée Picasso, Paris, repr. ibid., p.123). This depicts a standing woman in distress, with hands outstretched, and is based on the left-hand figure in ‘Guernica’. Also falling outside the ‘Guernica’ period is the later ‘Weeping Woman’, painted on 16 October 1939 (Zervos IX 1958, no.362, repr. p.169). Picasso's first essay on the theme of women and grief was possibly a drawing of 1903 (Musée Picasso, Zervos VI 1958, no.539, repr. p.66).
In terms of numbers, the weeping woman was the most enduring theme to emerge from the ‘Guernica’ project, and both the genesis and meaning of T05010 are intimately bound up in the making of ‘Guernica’.
In July 1936, five months after the victory of the Popular Front in the general elections in Spain, a military uprising in Spanish Morocco precipitated the Spanish Civil War. In January 1937 the Spanish Government in Exile (the ‘legitimate’ Republican government which had fled Madrid under fire from the rebel Nationalists in November 1936) commissioned Picasso to produce a painting for its pavilion, designed by Luis Lacasa and José-Luis Sert, at the World's Fair to be held in Paris in June 1937. Picasso's association with the Spanish Republican cause dates back to February 1936 when a retrospective exhibition of his work at Sala Esteva in Barcelona was organised by Sert, director of the Amigos de las Artes Nuevas. This group openly supported the leftist Popular Front, whose victory in the National elections coincided with the opening of Picasso's exhibition. The artist's association with the Republican cause was cemented in September when, following the outbreak of civil war, the Republican government named Picasso as director of the Prado Museum, Madrid. According to Roland Penrose, Picasso was kept in touch with news from Spain during the autumn of 1936 by newspaper reports and by letters from his mother in Barcelona which brought news of the burning of a local convent and described the acrid, eye-watering smoke (Penrose 1981, p.296).
Most of Picasso's literary friends, especially the Surrealist poets, Eluard, Aragon and Breton, were deeply involved in the Republican cause. However, prior to 1937 politics had rarely emerged in Picasso's work either as an inspiration or theme, and according to Chipp (1989, p.4), his initial response to the Paris World Fair commission was decidedly non-committal. Picasso first engaged in open protest against Franco's regime in January 1937 when he began work on his pair of etchings with aquatint entitled ‘Dream and Lie of Franco’ (repr. ibid., pp.12–13). Picasso originally intended to make a series of eighteen postcard-size prints to be sold individually to raise money for the Spanish Republican cause. The two plates were thus divided into nine compartments giving each sheet a comic-strip layout of nine images, which due to the reversal of the images in the printing process read from right to left. The etchings caricature Franco in invented forms imbued with symbolism drawn from bullfighting, Moorish military tradition and Spanish Catholicism. The etchings were not completed until 7 June, three days after the completion of “Guernica” and at the same time as Picasso's almost daily exploration of the weeping woman motif, “Guernica's” most enduring “postscript” (Barr 1946, p.206). Two final additions to the sequence were an image of mother and child closely related to an image in ‘Guernica’ and one of a weeping woman. Picasso was by now obsessed with the weeping woman theme, but it also happened to fit in well with the prose poem which accompanied ‘Dream and Lie of Franco’, and which Picasso had written on 8 and 9 January 1937, that is, well before the initiation of ‘Guernica’ itself. The last quarter of the prose poem reads:
cries of children cries of women cries of birds cries of flowers cries of timbers and of stones cries of bricks cries of furniture of beds and chairs of curtains of pots of cats and of papers cries of odors which claw at one another cries of smoke pricking the shoulder of the cries which strew in the cauldron and of the rain of birds which inundates the sea which gnaws the bone and breaks its teeth biting the cotton wool which the sun mops up from the plate which the purse and the pocket hide in the print which the foot leaves in the rock
(translated in Barr 1946, p.196)
This poem shows that the imagery of tears and of a weeping woman as an icon evocative of the suffering of Spain under Franco was already part of the artist's literary vocabulary well before its development in visual form.
‘Guernica’ was not started until May 1937, several months after Picasso had formally accepted the commission. The news of the devastation of the historic Basque town of Guernica first reached Paris on 27 April, the evening following the bombing, in a broadcast from Radio Bilbao. Picasso probably heard of the tragic events in the paper he customarily read, Ce Soir, published by the French Communist Party and edited by Aragon. This carried a telegram from its Bilbao correspondent in its 28 April edition, on sale from the evening of the previous day. On 30 April 1937 Ce Soir published photographs of the ruined city.
The bombardment of Guernica was part of Franco's campaign against the Basque province of Vizcaya. This campaign in the north of the country followed the stagnation of Franco's offensive against Madrid where Republican resistance was at its height and was particularly important because raw materials and industrial plant in the Basque area, which was rich in heavy industry, had been promised to Germany by Franco in exchange for its active support of the Nationalist cause. General Emilio Mola, spear heading the Army of the North, had the support of the German Condor Legion of the Luftwaffe. The bombing, which took place on 26 April and was followed by three days of burning, was particularly thorough, and has been seen as a rehearsal for the notorious blitzkrieg tactics of the Second World War. The bombing of Guernica was particularly emotive not only because of the severity of the attack but also because of the venerable history of the town as the Basques' Holy City, guardian of liberty and democracy.
In France the bombing was followed by a week of intense and often extremely contradictory newspaper reporting, which reflected the international political arena as much as actual events in Spain. On 1 May the May Day demonstration in Paris was the largest in its history, and its major themes were protest at the bombardment and appeal for support to the victims. Picasso's first studies for ‘Guernica’ were made on the same day.
The making of ‘Guernica’, from 1 May to 4 June, is unusually well documented because Picasso preserved an accurate record of the stages of the project's development. Much preparatory work was kept safe, most of the studies and related works were clearly dated by the artist, and the painting was photographed at key stages in its development.
The identification of Spain with women and suffering which underlies the iconography of T05010 was present from the start of ‘Guernica’. Of all the components of the finished composition, the horse, the bull and the female lamp-bearing figure were the first to be established and all were motifs Picasso had previously explored in other works. By 8 May, the third day of working, the theme of the mother carrying her dead child had been established (Madrid exh. cat., 1981, repr.p.37); and by 11 May the four principal female protagonists, each exhibiting intense emotion and despair, were in place. While developing the composition as a whole, Picasso explored some of the elements in separate studies. The mother and dead child theme was one such, and it was from this theme that the image of the weeping woman emerged. Chipp (1989, p.94) sees the image of the mother and dead child as the first motif Picasso introduced into ‘Guernica’ which directly evoked the actuality of the civil war. Images of mothers and their children, wounded, homeless, fleeing and in distress, were frequently carried in the French press. The French Popular Front used such photographs to protest against the Spanish conflict and to call for disarmament in their anti-war demonstrations in 1936 (see, for example, the photograph by David Seymour of the Popular Front demonstration in Paris, reproduced in Frances Morris (ed.), No Pasaran!, exh. cat., Arnolfini, Bristol 1986, p.41). Other factors may have informed the nature of the mother and child motif for Picasso. Mary Mathews Gedo argues that the image was inextricably bound up with Picasso's feeling towards his mother and an early childhood trauma. She draws attention to those sketches in which the female figure is depicted wearing a scarf, especially those dated 8 and 9 May. Citing Sabartés as her source, she quotes Picasso's recollection of events following a small earthquake in Malaga in 1884 when Picasso was only three years old: ‘my mother was wearing a kerchief on her head. I had never seen her like that’ (Mary Mathews Gedo, Art as Autobiography - Picasso's Self Image, 1980, p.181). Shortly following the earthquake, Picasso's mother gave birth to Lola, Picasso's first sister. To this personal symbolism must be added a more general iconographical source, namely the use of scarves or mantillas by Spanish women. Picasso was not the only artist to explore this symbolism in his work for the Spanish Pavillion. The image of a mother and her child was also adopted by Julio González in his sculpture ‘Monserrat’, 1937 (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, repr. Oppler 1988, p.85), which stood at the entrance to the Spanish Pavilion. The woman is shown wearing a head scarf and carrying a sickle. Many commented on her heroic posture. The image of the weeping woman took on a life of its own well before completion of ‘Guernica’. On 13 May Picasso made a colour sketch for the head of the mother (repr. Madrid exh. cat., 1981, p.53), which is notable in depicting the head alone without the strained tilt which is so much a feature of the female figures in ‘Guernica’. This more regular orientation is seen in the mother and child sketch of 13 May (repr. ibid., p.57) and in all subsequent representations of the single female head, excluding the drawing of 20 May (repr. ibid., p.67). This drawing is the first in which Picasso paid pronounced attention to the eyes represented as tear-drops. This eye shape was incorporated in the stylised presentation of the eyes in two of the female figures in ‘Guernica’, the mother figure and the figure on the extreme right with outstretched arms. In a drawing of 24 May (repr. ibid., p.69) we see depicted for the first time a female head alone and in tears. This was the first in the series of thirty-six weeping women cited above. At least twelve further depictions followed over the next four weeks.
The heads depicted in drawings dated 31 May and 3 June are flat and mask-like, combining an almost decorative black outline with patches of colour unrelated to the contours. From 8 June the drawings, while still highly stylised, are more naturalistic with descriptive details and the appearance of fleshy volume. In a painting dated 22 June (repr. ibid., p.123) the weeping woman is wearing a mantilla and clutching a handkerchief to her face. Her hand has long pointed finger nails. On 4 July the weeping woman is shown (repr. ibid., p.133) wearing a mantilla and with a handkerchief gripped between her clenched teeth.
There followed a long gap in the exploration of the theme while Picasso holidayed in Mougins near Cannes in the South of France in August and September. During the summer the sombre tones of Guernica were replaced with a bright palette of yellow, pink, mauve and crimson in portraits of his companions at the Hotel Vaste Horizon, Mougins. In addition to his companion Dora Maar, Picasso painted Paul and Nusch Eluard and Lee Miller, the photographer and companion of Roland Penrose. The ‘Portrait of Lee Miller’, 1937 (Antony Penrose, repr. Penrose 1981, p.111) is notable for its extraordinary combination of weeping eyes, shaped like tears, and a wide, smiling mouth. Penrose describes Picasso's mood during this summer vacation as one of ‘diabolical playfulness’ (Penrose 1958, p.311), a reaction against his recent (and shortly to be resumed) obsession with human tragedy. After his stay at Mougins the obsession with Spain returned and Picasso took up and radically developed his earlier themes. In a large painting of the mother and child theme dated 26 September 1937 (repr. Madrid exh. cat., 1981, p.137), there appeared a strikingly new treatment of the eyes, which are drawn like toy boats. Later still, on 12 October, a drawing (repr. ibid., p.139) shows how Picasso has made the eyes, ears and teeth powerfully expressive elements: the eyes are like boats or overflowing saucers, the ears are butterflies or flowers, while the teeth are sharp and fang-like. The grief of the weeping woman had become bitter and cruel. Picasso became obsessed with the theme: from 12 to 18 October he painted nothing but weeping women and he returned to the theme the following week. The drawings and paintings dated 13, 17, 18 and 24 October show him particularly absorbed in the iconography of the handkerchief. All the elements that Picasso had explored through the early summer and then developed in September and October were brought together in T05010.
In certain respects, T05010 is closely related to the heads of the four female figures in ‘Guernica’. The face combines a profile dominated by an angular nose outlined in black with a full-face depiction of the eyes. The mouth is shown in a three-quarters view. The combination of eyes seen frontally with a nose seen in profile characterises all the ‘Guernica’ faces. This very distinctive design was first adopted by Picasso in several portraits of women made in the early 1930s but did not become a distinctive feature of his work until the summer of 1937. Anthony Blunt argued that this mixed treatment of the face may have been inspired in part by eleventh-century Spanish apocalyptic drawings of the type discussed in a 1931 article published in Cahiers d'art (Blunt 1969, p.53). Although the specific example that Blunt discusses - a manuscript depicting a woman's head in profile with both eyes on one side of the face - is not reproduced in the Cahiers d'art article, Blunt suggested that Picasso may have been familiar with such striking images.
The ‘architecture’ of the woman's face in T05010 is, however, very different from the flat outlined faces of ‘Guernica’. It is also distinct from the curvilinear volumetric style employed in the sketches and etchings of early June. In T05010, and also in the paintings of 17 and 18 October (repr. Los Angeles exh. cat., 1994, pp.111–13), Picasso adopted a planar structure, extending Cubist modes of fragmentation and reconstruction for expressive ends. The hybrid facial structure of T05010 is internally divided into planes of contrasting, vivid colour delineated in black and dark grey. A confusion of hands, mouth, teeth, handkerchief and tears in the centre of the face is painted predominantly in white and blue. Above, firm black and dark grey strokes describe the deeply furrowed brow, tilted eyebrows and staring eyes. The eyes and eyelids are given extraordinary analytical attention. The eyebrows and lashes are depicted in a childlike fashion with thick individual strokes; the lids and sockets are depicted as capsized vessels from which tears cascade while the eyes are flung overboard. The eyes are seemingly tossed up, poised on the crests of the two white triangular forms describing the handkerchief and tears. From his earliest studies of the weeping woman theme in late May, tears and eyes are linked by trace lines (see, for example, the two drawings of 24 May, repr. Madrid exh. cat., 1981, pp.69 and 71). Even before the introduction of tears Picasso combined the two in a tear-shaped eye in a sketch for the mother and child motif dated 20 May (repr. ibid., p.67). In T05010 a large circular tear drop terminates a seemingly solid flow of tears from the subject's right eye, giving the eye and tear together the appearence of a soup ladel. The development of the eye as ‘a boat rocked in a tempestuous sea’ (Penrose 1973, p.157) took place during October. The specific configuration of forms employed in T 05010, in which the eyes are poised on the two pointed summits of the handkerchief was elaborated in the two pen and ink drawings dated 24 and 26 October, now in the collection of the Musée Picasso (repr. Los Angeles exh. cat., 1994, p.116). In addition to this intensely focused, symbolic exploration of physical and mental distress, T05010 also embraces more literal modes of description. The subject's hair, which is represented in the childlike-style also used for the eyebrows and lashes, is painted with blues and mauves. However, the hair style itself, in which the hair is swept back and worn with a short fringe, is recognisably that of Dora Maar. Other parts of the painting which appear to be more or less literal are the coat or jacket with its stitches, the hat with its purple flower and the domestic interior with striped wall paper and brown dado rail or skirting board.
Of all the weeping woman paintings T05010 is the most complex compositionally, the most heavily stylised, the most geometrically fragmented and the most highly coloured. The first paintings of the weeping woman which were made in June are very different and are largely monochrome and curvilinear where as T05010 is coloured and angular. In these early paintings dated 22 June (‘Weeping Woman with Handkerchief’, Museo nacional Centro de arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, repr. Madrid exh.cat., 1981, p.123 and ‘Weeping Woman with Handkerchief’, private collection, repr. Los Angeles exh. cat., 1994, p.77), the images are floated against a one-dimensional backdrop, in contrast to the interior setting of T05010. In the June portraits (see also the painting of 26 June, ‘Weeping Woman with Handkerchief’, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, repr.ibid., p.80) the head of the weeping woman is shown facing left. In the paintings made after the summer break the orientation of the head, as in T01015, is to the right. This may have been an indirect result of making etchings, a process in which the reversal of the image naturally occurs. Certainly, the painting of 13 October (‘Weeping Woman with Handkerchief’, Museo nacional, Centro de arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, repr. Madrid exh. cat., 1981, p.141) has a very graphic appearance, with a solid black background and an image made up from multiple strokes in black ink. The painting of 17 October (‘Weeping Woman with Handkerchief’, Museo nacional Centro de arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, repr. ibid., p.143) is, of all the paintings, closest to T05010. Its planar structure anticipates the composition of the later work, and as in T05010, the handkerchief is gripped by both teeth and hands. the depiction of the eyes and tears is also closely related. The interior setting of T05010 was anticipated in the painting of 18 October (‘Weeping Woman with Handkerchief’, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, repr. Los Angeles exh. cat., 1994, p.113), although in this and the other painting of 18 October (‘Weeping Woman’, Musée Picasso, Paris, repr. ibid. p.112) the hands, handkerchief and face are less fully integrated in formal terms. No single precursor combines all the elements brought together in T05010. Furthermore, the brilliant and brash colouring of T05010 was without precedent. Its colour was not only shocking in itself but particularly powerful in being associated with grief. According to Roland Penrose:
The result of using colour in a manner so totally unassociated with grief, for a face in which sorrow is evident in every line, is highly disconcerting. As though the tragedy had arrived with no warning, the red and blue hat is decked with a blue flower. The white handkerchief pressed to her face hides nothing of the agonised grimace on her lips: it serves merely to bleach her cheeks with the colour of death.
(Penrose 1981, p.314)
The principal model for most of the paintings of the weeping woman, including T05010, and for many of the graphics, was Dora Maar, Picasso's mistress from 1936 to 1943. Her features are recognisable in both drawings of 8 June and in most subsequent treatments. References to the artist's estranged wife Olga Koklova are also apparent in some works. The angular screaming mouth that characterises many of the drawings of the mother and child evokes the iconography of ‘The Kiss’, 1932 (Musée Picasso, Paris, repr. Los Angeles exh. cat., 1994, p.143), which was painted at a time when the relationship between Picasso and Olga was particularly under strain. Drawings of the weeping woman made in the last week of May and the first week of June also incorporate this screaming mouth and pointed tongue. The features of Marie-Thérèse Walter, or rather Picasso's sculpted vision of her face, are evident in a number of monochrome drawings of the motif throughout the period. In particular, a drawing of 12 October (repr. Madrid exh. cat., 1981, p.139) evokes the monumental bust portraits of Marie-Thérèse made by Picasso at Boisgeloup in 1932, which show notably bulbous noses, cheeks and eyes. In conversation with the compiler in Paris on 27 April 1990, Dora Maar stated that the figure of Marie-Thérèse should also be seen as the basis for the mother figure in ‘Guernica’. The features of both women dominated Picasso's work throughout the late 1930s. Herschal Chipp (1989, p.109) has argued that the frequency with which Dora Maar's likeness is fused with the weeping woman image reflects a shift in Picasso's affections towards Maar from early 1936. However, in 1937 Picasso made thirty-eight paintings of Marie-Thérèse and only twelve of Dora Maar. Gedo has suggested that Picasso was fascinated by the contrasting characters of his two mistresses and that the long series of still-life paintings which he continued to produce throughout 1937 and 1938 and which often juxtapose objects of quite jarring shapes, textures and colours are, in fact, ‘coded representations of his two mistresses which describe their contrasting characters and temperaments: Marie-Thé’rèse, soft and luscious, bright and glowing, versus Dora, angular and brittle, hard and impenetrable’ (Gedo 1980, p.172). Picasso was living on a daily basis with neither of his mistresses, but most weekends were passed in the company of Marie-Thérèse at Tremblay sur-Mauldre, while he was in daily contact with Dora Maar in Paris. Marie-Thérèse's presence in the very early sketches for ‘Guernica’ probably reflects the fact that they were made during two weekends spent with her and their daughter Maya (Chipp 1989, p.216 n.31). However, Dora Maar is recognisably the model for the majority of weeping women studies after 8 June, in which her distinctive physiognomy and dark hair are plainly discernable.
Dora Maar (born 1909, Henriette Theodora Markovitch, of Yugoslavian-French parentage) was a painter and photographer who had been involved with the Surrealists and had been the companion of Georges Bataille. She was intimately involved with the creation of ‘Guernica’ and was chiefly responsible for making the comprehensive photographic record of the mural's progress to completion and display.
According to John Richardson (‘Your Show of Shows’, New York Review of Books, 17 July 1980, p.19), ‘Guernica’ is ‘permeated by Dora's presence’. He notes a ‘switch from voluptuousness to violence’ in Picasso's work of the mid-1930s, caused in part by the increasing tension in his private life owing to his fraught relationship with Olga, Marie-Thérèse's pregnancy and the birth of their daughter Maya, his meeting with Dora Maar and the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.
Picasso was introduced to Dora Maar by Eluard at the Deux Magots café in Saint-Germain in the spring of 1936. Later that year, during Picasso's summer break at Mougins near Cannes, they met again as Maar was visiting Lise Deharme, the writer, in St Tropez. Intimacy followed and Picasso drew her for the first time, from memory, on 11 September (repr. Zervos VIII 1958, p.137). In the autumn of 1936 and early spring of 1937 Maar became the chief model of his paintings of women, itself the dominant genre in his output in the years 1937–40. Significantly, in all his depictions of her prior to her fusion with the weeping woman (see, for example, Zervos VIII 1958, nos.297–308, 331 and 347, repr. pp.140–308, 155 and 163), Dora Maar is shown as tranquil and composed.
It is probable that Dora Maar was instrumental in encouraging Picasso's increasing political awareness during this period. She was intellectually involved with a group of Surrealists committed to Popular Front policies and she was articulate and persuasive. According to John Richardson, Maar's intelligence made Picasso ‘almost as nervous as the former's [Marie-Thérèse's] lack of it’ (‘L'Amour Fou’, New York Review of Books, 19 Dec. 1985, p.68). Both Richardson and Pierre Daix (Daix 1987, p.263) have argued that the figure of the woman with the candle in ‘Guernica’ resembles Maar and replaces Marie-Thérèse who featured as the figure with the lamp in the Minotauromachia etchings of 1936 (repr. New York exh. cat., 1980, pp.328–9). Dora Maar agrees that there is some resemblance but recalls that Picasso told her that the right-hand figure of the woman with arms raised was based on herself, ‘Picasso said “it is you”’ (conversation with the compiler, Paris, 27 April 1990).
Maar arranged for Picasso to use the studio at 7 rue des Grands Augustins, formerly occupied by the poet Georges Bataille and his group ‘Contre-Attaque’, where Guernica was painted, and she witnessed the painting at every stage of its development. In conversation with the compiler Maar recalled that she had contributioned to ‘Guernica’ at Picasso's request by painting hairs on the horse's body. According to Maar, Picasso was entertaining Christian Zervos and his wife one afternoon when a photograph of the painting was urgently required for an edition of Cahiers d'art (repr. vol.4–5, 1937, p.153). Picasso asked Maar to visit the studio and finish painting the horse's coat before taking the photograph.
Maar recalls that Picasso painted the Tate Gallery's ‘Weeping Woman’ over several consecutive days, completing and dating the work on 26 October. It was painted at the studio in rue des Grands Augustins and the background interior decor is entirely imagined. Maar sat briefly for a preliminary sketch (whereabouts unknown). The heightened colour of the final compositon, the elaborate hat and the suggestion of heavy makeup applied to the face and the nail varnish evoke Maar's passion for elaborate dress and display. Pierre Daix (Daix 1987, p.257) and Brassai (Brassai 1967, p.45) refer to Maar's painted finger nails and later portraits of Maar depict her wearing elaborate hats sufficiently often to suggest that this was her custom. Maar recalls that she dressed according to the fashion of the day. She does not recall owning or wearing the red and purple hat depicted in the Tate Gallery's portrait but the heavy tweed jacket she was wearing for the sitting survives as a ‘memory’ in Picasso's treatment.
The iconography of the weeping woman appears to owe much to Dora Maar's own character and Picasso's perception of it, although, as has been noted above, Picasso depicted his mistress in a different light prior to ‘Guernica’. According to Françoise Gilot, Picasso's companion following his relationship with Maar, Picasso confessed to her that ‘an artist isn't as free as he sometimes appears. It's the same way with the portraits I've done of Dora Maar. I couldn't make a portrait of her laughing. For me she's the weeping woman. For years I've painted her in torture forms, not through sadism, and not with pleasure either; just obeying a vision that forced itself on me. It was a deep reality, not the superficial one’ (Françoise Gilot and Carlton Lake, Life with Picasso, New York 1965, p.119). Elsewhere Gilot describes Maar as having been ‘by nature nervous, anxious and tormented’, adding ‘Pablo often told me that for him Dora Maar was essentially the “weeping woman”’ (ibid. p.230). These sentiments are echoed by Richardson who quotes Picasso admitting his fear of Maar. ‘“Dora m'a toujours fait peur”, Picasso said by way of explaining why, from 1938 onward, he depicted her again and again as mercilessly as if she were his antagonist in some titanic struggle’ (Richardson 1985, p.68). Such reports are supported by Picasso's own written description of Dora Maar on 18 February 1937 as ‘Diablement séduisante dans son déguisement de larmes et chapeautée à merveille’ (Marie-Laure Bernadec, ed., Picasso: Collected Writings, Paris 1989, p.156). As in the poem accompanying ‘Dream and Lie of Franco’, Picasso here evokes the imagery of tears in words before its emergence in visual form. Furthermore, Dora Maar has spoken of her emotional vulnerability and frequent upsets during this period when she was ‘deeply hurt by sadness and disorder’, admitting that Picasso may have found his inspiration in this behaviour (conversation with the compiler, 27 April 1990).
Further iconographical sources have been cited as a means of explaining the expressive power of these portraits and the longevity of the theme in Picasso's work. In particular, several commentators, including McCully and Chipp, have claimed that the emotional impact of the portraits is related to the Spanish religious cult of the Mater Dolorosa, Our Lady of Sorrows. McCully argues that, ‘In their essence as images of art, their emotional power lies in their origins among the painted wood, life-sized statues of the Madonna carried in Spain in religious processions, whose tears are jewels that sparkle as they run down their cheeks, and whose garments are real lace, velvets and silver - at once real and other worldly’ (McCully 1989, p.13). Although Picasso was an avowed atheist, the art historian John Richardson has argued that there are significant, if ambivalent sacred sub-themes in his work (‘Picasso and the Sacred Heart’, Roland Penrose Memorial Lecture, Tate Gallery, 10 Oct. 1989). John Golding has examined Picasso's reference to religious art, in particular, Donatello's ‘Weeping Maenad at the Cross’, c.1460–70, and Grünewald's ‘Crucifixion’, 1505–15, in the Tate Gallery's ‘Three Dancers’, 1925 (‘Picasso and Surrealism’, in Roland Penrose and John Golding, eds., Picasso in Retrospect, 1973, pp.77–121). Penrose has demonstrated how Picasso was able to depict engulfing despair, couched in highly religious language, in his painting ‘Crucifixion’, 1930, which itself has an important relationship to ‘Guernica’ (‘Beauty and the Monster Beast’, in ibid., p.182, repr. p.193). Furthermore, refering to a Virgin or Magdalen figure as iconographical material for the weeping woman, Brassaï refers in passing to an old Catalan statue of the virgin ‘standing in the corner of [Picasso's] vast studio’ (Brassai 1967, p.204).
An alternative view of Picasso's reliance on source material is offered by Ruth Kaufmann (‘Picasso's “Crucifixion” of 1930’, Burlington Magazine, vol.111, no.798, Sept. 1969, p.553). According to Kaufmann, Picasso's use of images that closely refer to ancient cults, rituals and religion (she cites Mithraism, the crucifixion and the bullfight) came from a desire to enhance the emotional and psychological reality of his compositions. Kaufmann argues that this fascination with primitive symbolism, shared by the Surrealist writers Michael Leiris, Georges Bataille, Robert Desnos, and frequently explored in the pages of Cahiers d'art, was the key to Picasso's relationship with Surrealism rather than any interest in Freudian methods of free association or dream interpretation. In Kaufmann's view, Picasso's adoption of material from primitive societies displays the attitude ‘of an anthropologist-psychiatrist dispassionately regarding man's behaviour’. Such studies notwithstanding, Dora Maar believes that the search for religious, iconographic sources is absurd and unnecessary in explaining Picasso's choice of a weeping woman as the personification of a nation's despair, given the paramount importance to him - in life and art - of the women with whom he lived.
According to Maar, T05010 was a painting for which Picasso maintained a high regard. While it was the most important work in the series of ‘postscripts’ to ‘Guernica’, it was also one of a much larger group of works exploring the female portrait, especially the head and shoulder format. Of the 991 works listed by Zervos as falling within the period mid-1937 to 1940, Gedo notes that 67 per cent. were depictions of the female figure or face (Gedo 1980, p.185). Some physiognomic details, invented as the weeping woman theme evolved, recur in unrelated works. Sometimes, the ear is represented as a circle with two oval ‘wings’, and the eyes simultaneously also represent boats, birds or even lips.
The British Surrealist artist Roland Penrose purchased the painting from Picasso shortly after it had been completed in early November 1937. He later recalled:
In the autumn of the year in which ‘Guernica’ had been painted I paid Picasso a visit [at his Paris studio] one morning with Paul Eluard. When he showed us into his studio we were both astonished at the captivating power of a small newly painted canvas placed on an easel as though he was still at work on it. I have more than once been shaken by the emotional strength of a painting seen for the first time in an artist's studio, but this contained an unprecedented blend of realism and poetic magic. For a while the impact of this small brilliant canvas left us speechless, but after a few enthusiastic exclamations I heard myself say to Picasso, “Oh! May I buy that from you?” and heard in a daze his answer: “And why not?”. There followed the exchange of a cheque for almost nothing for one of the masterpieces of this century. I was overwhelmed at my good fortune as we left with the painting on which the paint was scarcely dry.
(Penrose 1981, p.88)
Penrose had known Picasso since first being introduced to him at the artist's Paris studio by Paul Eluard early in 1935. On the same day but at Boisgeloup, Picasso's home and studio outside Paris, Penrose bought his first Picasso, a painting titled ‘La Plage’, 1932 (ibid. p.68). According to Michael Sweeney, Archivist of the Penrose Collection, Penrose later bought the papier collé, ‘Tête’, 1913, from André Breton early in 1937. In July of the same year he acquired the collection of René Gaffé which included thirteen works by Picasso, notably ‘Danseuse nègre’, 1907 and ‘Jeune Fille à la mandoline’, 1910. Penrose also acquired Picasso's ‘Portrait of Lee Miller’, painted at Mougins in the summer of 1937 (letter to the compiler dated 20 April 1990).
Penrose was based in Paris from 1922 to 1935. Thereafter he visited the city frequently. According to Sweeney, his trip to Paris in November 1937 was probably motivated by business concerning his organisation of the exhibition ‘Surrealist Objects and Poems’ at the London Gallery, which opened on 24 November. Penrose's appointments diary records a meeting with Picasso on 9 November and a meeting with Paul Eluard on 10 November, and Sweeney suggests that T 05010 was therefore purchased on one of these two occasions. Penrose returned to London on 16 November and did not visit France again that year. Penrose made no identifiable record of the price agreed for the work but his diary for 1937 notes a figure of £500 for an unspecified Picasso purchase, while his diary for 1938 records on 23 January the figure of £284, again for an unspecified work. A list compiled by Penrose in April 1938 and entitled ‘Pictures bought April 1937–April 1938’ includes ‘Picasso 280 and 272’ (Penrose Collection Archive). It therefore seems likely that Penrose paid no less than £272 and no more than £500 for the ‘Weeping Woman’. In September 1939 Penrose insured T 05010 for £250. Such figures were not inconsiderable for their time and Sweeney suggests that Penrose's later statement, quoted above, that he paid ‘almost nothing’ for the painting was influenced by the very extreme rise in Picasso prices that had taken place by 1981 when he wrote the memoir.
Penrose played a crucial role in shaping critical response to the Tate Gallery's ‘Weeping Woman’. From the start he thought of it as a Surrealist painting. It appears in a manuscript list of ‘Surrealist paintings for exhibition in Gloucester’ and was shown in the exhibition ‘Realism and Surrealism’ at the Guildhall, Gloucester, May–June 1939, which was largely organised by Penrose and included work by seventy artists from Britain and Europe. ‘Weeping Woman’ was listed in the catalogue as ‘Woman Weeping’. It was ostensibly on sale for 400 gns, although according to information supplied by Michael Sweeney, Penrose decided not to consider sell it or other works from his collection which were also in the exhibition. Penrose continued to hold the view that ‘Weeping Woman’ was a Surrealist painting and Picasso substantially a ‘Surrealist’ artist. In 1980 he stated, ‘Picasso was very much a Surrealist and was greatly influenced by them, even if he wasn't a member of the group’ (‘Picasso the Surrealist Realist’, excerpts from a discussion between Roland Penrose and Dominique Bozo, Artforum, Sept. 1980, pp.24–30). Penrose's view was rooted in his perception of the depth of psychological and emotional feeling in such paintings as T05010 which he associated with Surrealism. In addition, he interpreted Picasso's invention of interchangeable images, like the eyelid-boat, as essentially dream images. However, he was equally certain that T05010 was a portrait and often expressed this duality in lectures on Picasso given during the 1960s and 1970s:
In the last postscript there are multiple implications from the world of dreams - eyes carried in small boats about to capsize in the tempest - tears pouring from the eyes are at the same time fingers pressing a white handkerchief to her face. Many other ambiguities enrich the poetic associations but in other terms this is a lifelike portrait of Dora Maar
(‘Picasso during the Thirties’, lecture at the Courtauld Institute of Art, March 1976, transcript, coll. Penrose Collection Archive)
A commitment to the real was confirmed by Picasso himself who confessed, ‘I attempt to observe nature, always, I am intent on resemblance, a resemblance more real that the real, attaining the surreal. It was in this way that I thought of Surrealism’ (quoted in Brassai 1967, p.28). Breton expressed very much the same view:
The attitude of Surrealism to Picasso has always been one of great deference on the artistic plane, and many times his new propositions and discoveries have renewed the attraction which drew us to him. What constantly created an obstacle to a more complete unification between his views and ours is his unswerving attachment to the exterior world (to the ‘object’) and the blindness which this tendency entails in the realm of the dream and the imagination.
(André Breton, ‘Pablo Picasso’, Combat, 6 Nov. 1961, quoted in John Golding, ‘Picasso and Surrealism’ in Golding and Penrose, eds., 1973, p.77)
John Golding (ibid.) argues that a combination of factors enabled Picasso in the late 1930s to undergo experiences akin to the ‘particular emotion’, the stimulation of which Breton identified as Surrealism's clearest aim. Breton described this emotion as taking place when a person is ‘suddenly caught by the “stronger than himself”, and thrust, despite his bodily inertia into immortality’ (ibid., p.121). According to Golding, however, in place of its artificial induction, for Picasso, ‘it arose from certain inevitable circumstances in his private life, and in 1937, from the recognition of a world tragedy’ (ibid.).
Alongside its earliest contextualisation as a Surrealist painting, T05010 established its credentials as a major postscript to ‘Guernica’ and as an expression of anti-war passion when it accompanied the painting on its tour of England during the autumn and winter of 1938–9. Although the precise details of ‘Guernica's’ exhibition history in England are obscure (see Chipp 1989, p.219 n.12), Picasso agreed to lend it and many preparatory drawings to the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief in London following its extensive tour as part of an exhibition of paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Braque and Laurens through Norway, Denmark and Sweden. ‘Guernica’ was first shown in England at the New Burlington Galleries from 4 to 29 October 1938 and then moved to the Whitechapel Art Gallery from December to January 1939. In an installation photograph at the New Burlington Galleries in the Penrose archive (repr. Chipp 1989, p.157), T05010 is shown prominently displayed on a wall at right angles to ‘Guernica’. Penrose was one of the chief organisers of the exhibition and also treasurer of the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief. Between the two London showings the studies for ‘Guernica’ and T05010 were shown in Oriel College Lecture Room, Oxford and at Leeds City Art Gallery. 'Guernica's last showing in England was in a hired car showroom on Victoria Street, Manchester from 1 to 15 February but it is not known whether T05010 was also displayed. ‘Guernica’ was then shipped to New York for a special showing at the Valentine Gallery organised by the Spanish Refugee Relief Campaign in May 1939 and for the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition Picasso: 40 Years of his Art in November of that year. Penrose, who had agreed to lend T05010 to the latter show, belatedly retracted his permission for reasons that are not known. In his letter to the compiler Michael Sweeney suggested that Penrose, who was already lending other works, did not want to risk his favourite Picasso, given the dangers posed to transatlantic shipping by the war. While declining to lend the work abroad Penrose was still willing to lend it within England and it was included in the private Picasso exhibition organised by Hugh Willoughby at his flat in Brighton in about 1942. In an interview with William Feaver, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 7 February 1992, the painter Lucian Freud recalled that Roland Penrose asked him to take the ‘Weeping Woman’ to the exhibition in Brighton. Freud described how he had placed the painting on the seat of the railway carriage facing him and looked at it throughout the journey in bright sunlight which revealed the brilliance of the colouring.
Several factors account for the relative fame of T05010 in this country beyond the general paucity of major Picassos in British public collections. Penrose himself was generous in lending the work and its prime position as one of the glories of his personal collection was well known. It featured in Cecil Beaton's ‘at home’ portrayal of the Penroses in 1965 (‘Sir Roland Penrose and his wife with the Picasso’, photograph, 19 Feb. 1965, repr. Sotheby's Preview, no.80, April–May 1988, p.12). Most significant was the widespread publicity attaching to the notorious affair of its theft from the Penroses' home at Hornton Street, London in 1969. ‘Weeping Woman’ was among a total of twenty-six paintings and one of seven Picassos that were stolen on 7 April 1969. They were eventually discovered by labourers at a house due to be demolished in Ealing, London, in July of the same year. The theft (recounted in Penrose 1981, pp.176–9) made front page news. On 8 April 1969 Roland Penrose appeared on the BBC's ‘24 Hours’ programme in a discussion of the theft and the front page report in the Daily Mirror for that day included a small reproduction of the work and quoted Penrose saying, ‘My most prized picture was a Picasso called “A Woman Weeping” which I bought just after he painted it. It must be worth between £60,000 and £80,000. It was my most treasured possession. I bought it when the paint was still wet’. The theft was even the subject of a Jak cartoon (Penrose Collection Archive, date and publication not listed). Penrose wrote to Picasso on 9 April informing him of the theft and describing the loss of T05010 as an ‘appalling disaster’ for him personally. He wrote a second time on 8 July to announce the recovery of the paintings and his reunion with them at Chelsea Police Station, remarking that he had almost wept in front of the police (information supplied by Michael Sweeney, Penrose Archive). In the same letter Penrose was also able to inform Picasso that, while T05010 had sustained no damage, a small hole had been made in a still life and his ‘Danseuse nègre’ of 1907 had been seriously damaged by the removal of the section of canvas bearing the artist's signature.
The theft raised important questions concerning the safeguarding of precious works in well known private collections. Penrose had already given some thought to the future care of T05010 and in his ‘Recollections Concerning the “Weeping Woman”’, a memoire sent to the Director of the Tate Gallery in August 1987, Roland Penrose's son, Antony Penrose recalls that six years before the theft his father had formally given the work to him:
At the end of the Easter holidays in 1963 I passed through London to meet the school train and visited my parents at their flat where they were as was customary during the week.
My father was in an unusually serious mood, and summoned me into the sitting room, closing the door behind him. My heart sank as I expected the familiar lecture about not trying hard enough at my lessons. Instead he went over to the drinks cabinet, over which hung the painting by Picasso titled ‘Weeping Woman’ [a photograph, taken by Lord Snowdon, of Roland Penrose in front of the drinks cabinet with T05010 hanging on the wall behind is reproduced in Robertson, Russell and Snowdon, Private View, 1965, p.32]. I had always had a particular fascination for this painting, with its bright colours and violent distortions. Many times as a child I had asked why the woman was crying, and I was usually told it was because her child had been killed by bombs. No supporting history was ever attached to this explanation and this made it all the more alarming, as though being annihilated without reason was a normal experience.
Father then went on to say he often was obliged to sell paintings to ‘replenish the family coffers’ as he put it, and my heart sank even further. This was clearly going to be another guilt trip about how much he was having to shell out to cover my school fees, and the ‘Weeping Woman’ was next for the chop. However things took a very unexpected turn: He quietly announced he was going to give me the painting. He said it was partly to safeguard himself against selling the painting as he would surely need to dispose of further works. He went on to say he was also making provisions for my well being in the event of his death, and in order to make the gift free of Death Duty he had to be sure to live a further seven years. This would put me two years beyond my 21st birthday, and by that time, he hinted, the painting would be worth ‘quite something’, and I could dispose of it if I wished.
From that time Antony Penrose took decisions concerning the loan of the work to exhibitions. According to him (ibid.), the theft prompted the family to rethink their security arrangements, and as a result he decided to offer ‘Weeping Woman’ to the Tate Gallery as a loan in order to safeguard its future:
We agreed an arrangement where loans could still be made to exhibitions via the Tate, and the Tate undertook to cover the work with an indemnity, thus saving the insurance premium. Father and I also decided that henceforth public acknowledgement of all loans should simply read ‘Private Collection, England’. At that time there was a spate of art thefts from private collections, one of which involved the brutal murder of a caretaker in front of his family. We felt it important to avoid attracting attention to our ownership of valuable paintings to help avoid further disaster.
Antony Penrose later felt that the painting was both too valuable and too and ‘well established on the wall of the Tate to consider moving her’ (ibid.).
A second wave of publicity came in 1987, three years after the death of Roland Penrose. As a result of inheritance tax on his father's estate, Antony Penrose was obliged to consider selling several major works and the future of T05010, still on loan to the Tate and worth considerably more than the tax liability, was in doubt. Following an unprecedented arrangement instigated by Lord Gowrie with the Minister for the Arts, the Tate Gallery was able to acquire the work by a combination of an offer in lieu of tax supplemented by a monetary payment. The acquisition was assisted by the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the National Art Collections Fund, the Friends of the Tate Gallery and a public appeal. Two months before the settlement was finally accomplished Antony Penrose wrote in his ‘Recollections’:
The ‘Weeping Woman’ is seen annually by thousands at the Tate and occasionally she still ventures abroad. It is my hope she will remain in the Tate as a more permanent part of their collection in the room where she now hangs. Many of the other paintings around her owe their presence in the Tate to my father's intervention. He either negotiated ‘mates’ rates' for the trustees to purchase the work direct from the artist, as with the Picasso ‘Three Dancers’, or he sold to the Tate works from his own collection at a greatly reduced price, as was the case with the Ernst ‘Celebes’. In respect of the traditions of the Gallery's collection, and Roland Penrose's services to British Contemporary Art, the Tate is the only fitting permanent home for this painting in the world.
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996
It is well known that Pablo Picasso initiated many important developments of twentieth-century art, but we know less about his ...
This week's work is Pablo Picasso's Weeping Woman, painted in 1937.
Contemporary reflections on a work in the Tate collection
- emotions, concepts and ideas(15,769)
- work and occupations(14,301)