Dora Maar

Head of a Woman (Dora Maar) by Pablo Picasso, 1941. Private Collection © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2016 © Photo: Claude Germain

Picasso’s liaison with Dora Maar coincided with the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War and she became for him the tragic embodiment of human suffering, her highlystrung temperament fitting her for this role. In numerous paintings, her face and body appear painfully, sometimes grotesquely, distorted to express the anguish and dread experienced by Parisians under Nazi rule.

In contrast, this monumental portrait of Maar expresses a spirit of resolve, fortitude and courage. In 1959, it took on a different symbolic meaning when a cast was set up in Paris as a memorial to Picasso’s friend, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who had died in 1918.