Marie-Thérèse Walter

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Marie-Thérèse Walter
Marie-Thérèse is the model for Picasso's Le Rêve ("The Dream"), 1932.
Born (1909-07-13)13 July 1909
Died 20 October 1977(1977-10-20) (aged 68)
Children Maya Widmaier-Picasso
born (1935-09-05) 5 September 1935 (age 80)

Marie-Thérèse Walter (13 July 1909 – 20 October 1977) was the French mistress and model of Pablo Picasso from 1927 to about 1935, and the mother of his 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 mistress, artist Dora Maar.[citation needed]

In Picasso's paintings, Walter appears as blonde, sunny, and bright, as in Le Rêve (1932), in contrast to his darker portrayal of Dora Maar, whom Picasso painted as the tortured "weeping woman".[citation needed]


Marie-Thérèse Walter was born in Le Perreux, France, Europe.[citation needed]

Early years with Picasso (1927-1935)[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Final years with Picasso (1935-1940)[edit]

In 1935, Marie became pregnant. When Picasso's wife, Olga, was informed by a friend[who?][when?][why?] that her husband had a longtime mistress 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, because Picasso wanted to avoid the even division of property dictated by French law; instead, they lived separately until her death in 1955.[clarification needed][citation needed]

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 modelled for some of his paintings, including Maya with Doll (1938).[citation needed]

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 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. Picasso described it "as one of his choicest memories."[1]

Whereas Picasso portrays Dora in his works of art as dark and in pain, as the "woman in tears", he painted Marie-Thérèse as just the opposite: blonde and bright.[citation needed]

Later years and death[edit]

In 1940, Marie and Maya moved to Paris, Boulevard Henri IV no 1, since the house at Le Tremblay-sur-Mauldre was occupied during World War II.[citation needed]

Picasso supported Marie and Maya financially, but he never married Marie.[citation needed]

On 20 October 1977, four years after Picasso's death, Marie-Thérèse committed suicide by hanging herself in the garage at Juan-les-Pins, South of France.[citation needed][2]

In 2004, Maya had three children. One of her sons, Olivier Widmaier Picasso, published a biography of his famous grandfather entitled Picasso: The Real Family Story.[citation needed].[3] Her daughter, Diana Widmaier Picasso, is currently working on a catalogue raisonné about her grandfather's sculptures.

Incomplete list of portraits of Marie-Thérèse[edit]


  1. ^ Kandel, Susan (1994). "Picasso and the Weeping Women". Frieze (June/August 1994). Retrieved on 2011-06-29 from
  2. ^
  3. ^ Riding, Alan (9 December 2004). "A Grandson Casts A Kind Eye On Picasso". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ Richard Dormant (2012-05-08). "Picasso, The Vollard Suite, British Museum, review". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-05-19. 


  • Picasso, Olivier Widmaier. PICASSO: The Real Family Story. Prestel Publ. 2004. 320 p. ISBN 3-7913-3149-3 (biography)

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