Pablo Picasso

Nude Woman in a Red Armchair


Pablo Picasso 1881–1973
Original title
Femme nue dans un fauteuil rouge
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1299 × 972 mm
frame: 1414 × 1081 × 83 mm
Purchased 1953

Display caption

This work belongs to a sequence of portraits that Picasso made of model Marie-Thérèse Walter at his country property at Boisgeloup. Walter is presented here – as in most of her portraits by Picasso – as a series of sensuous curves. The scrolling arms of the chair exaggerate this effect, echoing the rounded forms of the figure. The face is a double image: the right side can also be seen as the face of a lover in profile, kissing Walter on the lips. The Surrealists admired Picasso, and this image bears a relation to their idea of ‘mad love’.

Gallery label, February 2022

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Catalogue entry

Pablo Picasso 1881-1973

N06205 Femme nue dans un Fauteuil rouge (Nude Woman in a Red Armchair) 1932

Inscribed 'Picasso | XXXII' t.l. and 'Boisgeloup 27 juillet XXXII' on stretcher
Oil on canvas, 51 1/8 x 38 ¼ (130 x 97)
Purchased from Mrs Stead H. Stead-Ellis through Marlborough Fine Art (Grant-in-Aid) 1953
Prov: With Paul Rosenberg, Paris (purchased from the artist 1932); through Rosenberg and Helft, London; Oswald T. Falk, Oxford, 1937; with Zwemmer, London; with Marlborough Fine Art, London; Mrs Stead H. Stead-Ellis, London
Exh: Oeuvres Récentes de Picasso, Paul Rosenberg, Paris, March 1936 (7); Douze Peintres, Paul Rosenberg, Paris, November 1936 (22); Recent Works of Picasso, Rosenberg and Helft, London, April 1937 (3); Work by Picasso, Mirô, Borès, Zwemmer Gallery, London, May-June 1948 (4, repr.); Picasso, Grande Salle 'La Réserve', Knokke-Le Zoute, July-August 1950 (41, repr.); European Masters, Marlborough Fine Art, London, November 1953-January 1954 (17, repr.); Picasso, Tate Gallery, July-September 1960 (129, repr.); Hommage à Pablo Picasso, Grand Palais, Paris, November 1966-February 1967 (159, repr.); Picasso, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, March-May 1967 (74, repr.)
Lit: Robert Melville, 'The Evolution of the Double Head in the Art of Picasso' in Horizon, VI, 1942, pp.350-1, repr. facing p.348; Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso (Paris 1955), Vol.7, No.395, repr. pl.175; Roland Penrose, Picasso: his Life and Work (London 1958), p.243
Repr: Cahiers d'Art, 1935, p.217

This is one of a number of pictures inspired by Marie-Thérèse Walter, a girl Picasso first met early in 1932, when she was only seventeen, and who bore him a daughter Marie (Maïa) in 1935. Picasso managed to conceal this relationship for many years even from his closest friends; his friend and dealer Kahnweiler, for instance, only learnt of her existence after the war. (On their relationship, which lasted until 1946, see Jean-Paul Crespelle, Picasso and his Women, London 1967, especially pp.137-42; an exhibition of the oils, gouaches, drawings, etc. which Picasso gave her was held at the Galerie Jan Krugier in Geneva in 1973).

She appears in a series of pictures painted in 1932 of a woman sleeping, lying down or seated, with very rounded, rhythmical forms, and can almost always be recognised by her lock of blonde hair. This particular picture was painted at Picasso's country property at Boisgeloup and is dated on the stretcher 27 July 1932. A pencil drawing reproduced by Zervos (op.cit., No.394) as a study for this work bears the date 30 July 1932 and therefore seems to have been done afterwards; it is even more curvilinear in design.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.606-7, reproduced p.606

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