|Born||13 July 1909|
Le Perreux, France
|Died||20 October 1977 (aged 68)|
Marie-Thérèse Walter (13 July 1909 – 20 October 1977) was the French lover and model of Pablo Picasso from 1927 to about 1935 and the mother of their daughter Maya Widmaier-Picasso. Their relationship began when she was seventeen years old; he was 45 and still living with his first wife, Olga Khokhlova. It ended when Picasso moved on to his next relationship, with artist Dora Maar.
Early years with Picasso (1927–1936)
On 8 January 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 8 January 1928. At the time Picasso was married to Olga Khokhlova, a Russian ballerina, with whom he had a five-year-old son. He and Walter, then seventeen years old, began a relationship which was kept secret from his wife until 1935. From 1927 onwards, Walter lived close to Picasso's family, who lived in an apartment provided by and next door to his art dealer and friend, Paul Rosenberg, in Rue La Boétie. From 1930, she stayed in a house opposite Picasso's at Rue La Boétie 44.
In July 1930, Picasso bought a castle at Boisgeloup close to Gisors in the Normandie, which he used as a studio for sculptures mainly. Marie was the unseen shadow of the family and became his model and muse for both paintings and sculptures.
Final years with Picasso (1935–1940)
In 1935 Marie became pregnant. When Picasso's then-wife Olga was informed by a friend that her husband had a longtime relationship with a woman who was expecting a child, she immediately left Picasso and moved to the South of France with their son Paulo. Picasso and Olga never divorced, although Picasso was intent on it and explored the legal possibilities Olga was "bitterly opposed to the whole thing"; instead she impounded his work until he came to terms eventually paying her a large allowance, they lived separately until her death in 1955.
On 5 September 1935, Picasso and Marie's daughter, María de la Concepción, called "Maya", was born. Marie and Maya stayed with Picasso at Juan-les-Pins in the South of France from 25 March to 14 May 1936 and then at Le Tremblay-sur-Mauldre, 25 kilometres (16 mi) from Versailles, where Picasso visited on the weekends and some weekdays to play with his daughter. Maya also modeled for some of his paintings, including Maya with Doll (1938).
Marie-Thérèse became jealous when Picasso fell in love with Dora Maar, a surrealist photographer and model for Picasso, in 1935. Once, she and Maar met accidentally in Picasso's studio when he was painting Guernica. Asked about this in later life, Picasso allegedly remarked that he had been quite happy with the situation and that when they demanded that he choose between them, he told them that they would have to fight it out themselves, at which point the two women began to wrestle. The Art historian and friend of Picasso, John Richardson, says this story was not true, that both Dora Maar and Picasso told him it never happened and there is no direct evidence that it ever did. More likely the event is imagined from the pictorial representation of Walter and Maar who appear as if in battle at opposite ends of the composition of Guernica.
Later years and death
Picasso supported Marie-Thérèse and her child financially, but he never married her.
On 20 October 1977, four years after Picasso's death, Marie-Thérèse committed suicide at Juan-les-Pins, South of France. Her daughter Maya had three children. One of Maya's sons, Olivier Widmaier Picasso, published a biography of his famous grandfather entitled Picasso: The Real Family Story. Maya's daughter, Diana Widmaier Picasso, is currently working on a catalogue raisonné of her grandfather's sculptures.
Incomplete list of portraits of Marie-Thérèse
- The Red Armchair (1931)
- Bust of a Woman (Marie-Thérèse) (1931)
- Woman with Yellow Hair (1931)
- La Lecture (1932)
- Girl before a Mirror (1932)
- The Dream (1932)
- Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (1932)
- Nude in a Black Armchair (1932)
- Portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter with Garland (1937)
- Seated Woman, Portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter (1937)
- Woman in Hat and Fur Collar (1937)
- Marie-Thérèse Leaning on One Elbow (1939)
- Marie-Thérèse is extensively portrayed in Picasso's Vollard Suite.
In popular culture
- famsf.org, "Picasso: The Women Behind the Artist"
- The daily beast.com, Paul Laster "Picasso's Greatest Muse", The love affair of Pablo Picasso and Marie-Thérèse Walter forms a captivating new exhibit at Gagosian Gallery, curated in part by the couple’s granddaughter" 04.16.11
- O'Brian, Patrick, Picasso, Collins, 1989, p. 299
- O'Brian, Patrick, Picasso, Collins, 1989, p. 300
- Richardson, John, Picasso, Magic Sex and Death, Channel 4, 2001
- Sothebys, Simon Shaw, "Reign of the Blonde Muse: An Interview with Diana Widmaier-Picasso", 17 Oct 2012
- New york times, Holland Cotter, "Picasso in Lust and Ambition", Oct. 23, 2008
- Riding, Alan (9 December 2004). "A Grandson Casts A Kind Eye On Picasso". The New York Times.
- John Richardson (2007). A Life of Picasso: The triumphant years, 1917-1932. Jonathan Cape. p. 446. ISBN 978-0-224-03121-9.
- Richard Dormant (2012-05-08). "Picasso, The Vollard Suite, British Museum, review". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2012-05-19.
- Picasso, Olivier Widmaier. PICASSO: The Real Family Story. Prestel Publ. 2004. 320 p. ISBN 3-7913-3149-3 (biography)