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Femme Assise Près D’une Fenêtre

Pablo Ruiz Picasso (October 25, 1881 – April 8, 1973), despite being married to Olga Khokhlova (June 17, 1891 – February 11, 1955), had fallen in love with 18-year-old Marie-Thérèse Walter (July 13, 1909 – October 20, 1977) at the age of 46. Their affair lasted for almost a decade (1927-35). On September 5, 1935, Marie gave birth to their daughter, Maya Widmaier-Picasso.

However, Picasso never recognised Marie as his wife. Instead, the Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist and theatre designer continued to experiment with Marie on the canvas. It was about nine decades ago, he had painted an image of Marie who was sitting near a window with blank eyes. The painting has recently been sold for USD 103.4 million (GBP 73.5 million) in the US.

Picasso portrayed Marie, the French model, in his 1932 work, titled ‘Woman Sitting Near a Window’ (‘Femme Assise Près D’une Fenêtre‘). New York-based Christie’s Auction House put up the work for auction on May 13. The Auction House had estimated the painting would sell for USD 55 million, but, within 19 minutes of the beginning of the auction process, the work was sold at a huge price. It was for the fifth time when work by Picasso to have sold for more than USD 100 million. No other artist in the world has such an achievement! Christie’s believes that the auction of Woman Sitting Near a Window will certainly revive the Art Market.

Picasso with Marie-Thérèse Walter

Contemporary artists are of the opinion that the art lovers are well aware of Picasso’s affair with Marie. The master painter supported Marie and her child financially, but he never married her. Later, Picasso got involved with Dora Maar (born Henriette Theodora Markovitch (November 22, 1907 – July 16, 1997)), a surrealist photographer and model, and later a painter, too, and also with other women. However, Marie used to stay alone even after Picasso left her. She committed suicide four years after Picasso’s demise in 1973. Hence, many are sympathetic to Marie. The World of Art believes that the 1932 work has become famous not only for Picasso, but also for Marie.

Picasso had married Olga Khokhlova, a Ukrainian Ballerina and Aristocrat, and much later Jacqueline Roque. When he was 72, Jacqueline was just 26. Interestingly, she, too, committed suicide in 1986. He had affairs galore… notably with M T Walter – daughter Maya, Dora Maar, and Francoise Gilot-Ma of Claude and Paloma Picasso.

Woman Sitting Near a Window

On January 8, 1927, Marie first met Picasso in front of the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Author Herbert T Schwartz dates their first meeting back to January 1925 at Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris; whereas author Roy MacGregor-Hastie dates the encounter up to January 8, 1928. At the time, Picasso was married to Olga, with whom he had a five-year-old son. He and Marie, then 17 years old, began a relationship which was kept secret from his wife until 1935. Dora’s liaison with Picasso, who physically abused her and made her fight Marie-Therese Walter for his love, ended in 1943, although they met again episodically until 1946. Thus, on March 19, 1944, she played the role of Fat Anguish in the reading, at the home of Michel Leiris, of Picasso’ first play, Desire Caught by the Tail, led by Albert Camus. In 1944, through the intermediary of Paul Éluard, Dora Maar met Jacques Lacan, who took care of her nervous breakdown by administering her electroshocks, which were forbidden at the time. Picasso bought her a house in Ménerbes, Vaucluse, where she retired and lived alone. She turned to the Catholic religion, met painter Nicolas de Staël (who lived in the same village), and turned to abstract painting.

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