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During 1937 Picasso became obsessed with the motif of a weeping woman, which symbolised for him the anguish and devastation of the Spanish Civil War. The figure first appeared among the sketches for Guernica, his famous depiction of the German bombing raid on a Basque town. He associated her with his mistress Dora Maar, who had been instrumental in encouraging Picasso’s political awareness. He later commented: ‘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.’

March 2011