Pablo Picasso

Woman at the Window

1952

Original title
La Femme à la fenêtre
Medium
Aquatint and drypoint on paper
Dimensions
Image: 902 x 635 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler 1974, accessioned 1994
Reference
P11362

Summary

Woman at the Window, 1952, is a portrait made with sugar-lift aquatint and drypoint of Picasso’s companion Françoise Gilot (born 1921). Picasso had met the young Françoise, who was a painter herself, in May 1943 and she quickly became a constant presence in his work. The print shows Françoise in profile, standing as she looks out of a window, and offers an interesting contrast to the way in which Picasso had portrayed her in the lithograph Woman in an Armchair No.1 (The Polish Cloak), 1949 (Tate P11361). Where that is a serene, naturalistic portrait of Françoise in delicate washes of lithographic ink, Woman at the Window is partially abstracted and drawn in sharp, angular areas of black, grey and white. This is rendered by intersecting black lines that continue along her neck and delineate her throat. Her eyes are protruding and her nose is off-centre. The scene is dramatically lit from the right, through the window, creating a play of strong light and shade on Françoise’s face. Her hands touch the window and are shown in complete darkness, with slivers of light filtering between the fingers and delineating them.

To make Woman at the Window Picasso used bold areas of block colour contrasted by more decorative and intricate sections. Picasso made two states of this work. The present print was pulled from the second state, after the copper plate had been steelfaced. From the first to the second state the artist somewhat refined the image and made the grey and black tones both deeper and richer. He reduced the size of Françoise’s forehead, making it a little less pronounced, and changed her hair, making it more ornate, geometric and defined. Finally, he changed the shape of the shadow or curtain behind her and darkened it.

This print was made in Paris on 17 May 1952 and printed by the atelier of Roger Lacourière. It was published by the Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, on Arches wove paper in an edition of approximately fifteen signed artist’s proofs – of which this is one – plus fifty signed and numbered copies.

Further reading

Brigitte Baer, Picasso the Printmaker: Graphics from the Marina Picasso Collection, exhibition catalogue, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas 1983, reproduced p.144
Brigitte Baer, Picasso peintre-graveur: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre gravé et des monotypes, 1946-1958, vol. 4, Bern 1988, pp.160-1, reproduced p.161
Giorgia Bottinelli, ‘Pablo Picasso’, in Jennifer Mundy (ed.), Cubism and its Legacy: The Gift of Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler, exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, London 2004, pp.88-90, reproduced p.96

Giorgia Bottinelli
June 2004

Display caption

Made in Paris on 17 May 1952, Woman at the Window is a portrait of Picasso’s lover Françoise Gilot in profile. It is the second of two versions of the print. From the first to the second, the image was somewhat refined and the grey and black tones were made deeper and richer. Françoise's forehead was made a little less pronounced while her hair was rendered more geometric and defined. Finally, the shadow behind her changed shape, becoming darker and more solid.

Gallery label, August 2004