Interview

Did Picasso paint this in a day?

We investigate whether Picasso really painted Nude Woman in a Red Armchair in one day

It really seems to be that at this moment Picasso had this mastery of hands and of application, that he just did it in one go.

Achim Borchardt-Hume, Director of Exhibitions, Tate Modern

The back of Nude Woman in a Red Armchair, a 1932 painting by by Pablo Picasso, is inscribed with the words ’Boisgeloup 27 Juillet 1932’ – leaving some experts to question whether the painting was completed in just one day.

At Tate’s conservation lab, our team examined the painting and made some interesting discoveries about Picasso’s technique and use of paint.

This painting belongs to the remarkable sequence of portraits that Picasso made of Marie-Thérèse Walter at his country property at Boisgeloup. Marie-Thérèse is presented here, as in most of her portraits, as a series of sensuous curves.

Even the scrolling arms of the chair have been heightened and exaggerated to echo the rounded forms of her body. The face is a double or metamorphic image: the right side can also be seen as the face of a lover in profile, kissing her on the lips.

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Artist

Pablo Picasso

1881–1973
Artwork
Art Term

Abstract art

Abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead use ...

Art Term

Cubism

Cubism was a revolutionary new approach to representing reality invented in around 1907–08 by artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque ...