Pablo Picasso meets Marie Therese Walter
Last week we painted in watercolour with a man called Pablo Picasso. I felt that the classes went really well, considering that the subject matter may be viewed as controversial, even after all these years! As you know, I always do my best not to present anything too challenging or ‘out there.’
In 1927 Picasso met 17-year-old Marie-Thérèse Walter in front of the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris, saying, “Mademoiselle, you have an interesting face. I would like to make your portrait. I am Picasso.” Marie-Thérèse soon became Picasso’s lover, but because the artist was married he kept his romantic relationship with her shrouded in secrecy for many years. Picasso was utterly captivated by Marie-Thérèse’s youth, beauty, and vitality; between 1927 and 1939 he created hundreds of drawings, paintings, prints, and sculptures referencing her distinct straight blond hair, Grecian profile, and soft figure.
In 1935, Marie became pregnant. When Picasso's wife, Olga, was informed by a friend 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. On 5 September 1935, Picasso and Marie's daughter, María de la Concepción, called "Maya", was born.
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."
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.
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. Picasso supported Marie and Maya financially, but he never married Marie.
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.