The Influence Of Marie-These And Dora Maar On The Changes in Picasso’s Evolving Feelings

Reading about Pablo Picasso surprised me and left me in shock, It changed how I looked and saw his works, before knowing what’s behind his art, looking at Picassos paintings was never interesting to me, they couldn’t make sense to me. When I read about him in depth, every painting seemed meaningful, and I suddenly became really interested in Picasso's art. I got to know about how much he suffered to get to where he got, also about each one of his art periods being inspired by life events, experiences and his muses, his women.

I read about his relationships and different muses from 1904 to 1973, starting with his first long-lasting relationship that lasted for 7 years with Fernande Olivier, Eva Gouel a lover that Picasso never painted who died and left him in despair, Olga Khokhlova a Russian ballerina who later became Picassos wife and the mother of his child Paolo, The young Marie-Therese who was very important to Picasso and gave birth to his daughter Maya, The intellectual artist Dora Maar, and ending with Jacqueline Roque who Picasso spent almost 20 years with.

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Each muse had a period and a special place in Picasso’s heart and art; they individually affected Picasso in a way and inspired him to come up with a new portraying style being naturalistic, neoclassicism, abstract, surrealism and more…All his muses and relationships were interesting, I noticed how different their characters were and I noticed two different muses that were exactly the opposite of each other, Marie-Therese Walter and Dora Maar, one of them being super soft and bendy and the other being intellectual and harsh.

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I looked at how he could put his emotions on paper when he portrayed them through time and I have noticed that the way he portrayed Marie-Therese changed a lot, he started painting her in a very intimate way but slowly to formal after meeting his new muse Dora Maar.

I searched for articles and Books about these two muses, finding information about Dora was easy but finding information about Marie-Therese wasn’t that easy since she was a secret muse of Picasso, which made my research about her even more interesting. I tried to choose my painting from different years, compare and analyze them to be able to see the changes in Picasso’s evolving feelings for his muse Marie-These and Dora Maar effect on them.

The painting’s name is Le Rêve, which means the dream in English, and is one of Picasso’s most iconic and expensive paintings, it was created in January the 24th in 1932, rumored to being completed in only few hours, with a size of (130 cm x 97 cm), the oil painting that was painted on canvas is now located in a private location that belongs to the very rich Steven Cohen. The model in the picture is Marie-Therese who was Picassos neighbor, one day Marie-Therese was going to galleries Lafayette to do some shopping, while coming out of the metro Picasso grabbed her by her arm and told her “I’m Picasso! You and I are going to do great things together” for a man like Picasso to go and talk to a random girl in a metro station, this tells us how attractive and charming Picasso found her to stop and introduce himself to her.

Marie-Therese was only 17 years old when a secret relationship evolved between her and Picasso who was 45 years old, after their first meeting in 11thJanuary 1927, where he painted her on the floor above the apartment he shared with his wife Olga Khokhlove, Picasso told her to come back the next day, and Marie had to lie to her mom telling her she got a job just to meet Picasso. So everything was very adventurous and dangerous in their relationship.

It was a secret relationship because Picasso’s lawyer said so. For the first period of their relationships he couldn’t even paint her like he wanted, instead he used a Japanese model to paint with Marie Therese’s bathing suites and poses After a while in 1932 finally Picasso showed his work of his muse Marie-Therese at the galerie georges petit that inspired him and became his model for cubist and neo-classical painting.

Le Rêve was one of the paintings in this very sexual erotic and successful collection, it shows sexual desire. In the painting we can see her sitting in a very relaxed position, laying her head on her shoulder on a very comfy single couch, from her sitting position we can see their relationship, how comfortable she was around Picasso and how she trusted him. With her eyes closed she looks like she is dreaming, and we can see a slightly visible smile on her lips, so she would be dreaming of something she really likes. We can see how attracted Picasso is to the model from the way he portrayed her, with all the sexual symbols he used.

Painting her in a very intimate way, by showing her breast and the reveling clothes she is wearing with the sleeves being worn improperly. The using of the different colors red and yellow on the shirt and the green lines on it, make the shirt look like a newspaper Marie was reading, which was one of her hobbies. We also notice how he painted her hand under the skirt where it looks like she is touching her genitals, which almost drives us away from seeing that she has an extra finger on each hand, which might represent the illusion of movement just like inn photography. Another hidden symbol, that I didn’t notice the first time I looked at the painting, is the upper half of Marie-Therese’s head which the artist painted in 2 views frontal and profile, which resembles an erect penis that is believed to be Picassos by many art critics, the unrealistically painted lips touching it, while smiling which shows us their intimate and sexual relationship, it shows us what’s on her mind, her dreaming of her lover.

The colors used in this painting were all joyful, brash and earthy, even the lines were wavy and simplistic The primary colors used were blue, yellow and red, and a secondary color, which was green. Picasso also wanted us to put all our attention on Marie-Therese and that we can see in his color choices, where he painted the chair with the very warm colors red and yellow, and Marie with dull colors with shades of white and light pink. The chair being painted in red and yellow, which are very warm colors and the model’s skin with white and light pink colors. His use of the warm colors reflected on their erotic relationship. While the painting has a little bit of a cubism with its simplified outlines and the geometrical shape of the wallpaper, it is also very similar and close to the Fauvism, which was a French painting style with Henri Matisse as a leader, the purpose of fauvism is to separate colors from their descriptive and allowing them to be independent elements on the canvas, colors were used to convey emotions and moods as Henri Matisse said “When I put a green, it is not grass. When I put blue, it is not sky”, which means that Picasso followed his feelings toward Marie Therese while painting Le Rêve.

Nude, green leaves and bust in English, is one of the most expensive paintings ever sold in 2010 to an unknown buyer, but is currently placed in Tate modern art museum, oil on canvas painted in the early months of 1932, with the dimensions 162 cm x 130 cm.

In the painting, we see many hidden symbols and messages that tell us a lot about the model’s Marie-Therese and Picasso’s relationship. We see the blonde young muse, lying on a couch; the artist portrays her as a very sweet innocent girl with her closed eyes, with his choice of colors he manages to make her stick out, look alive, touchable and muscular.

Due to his situation with Olga, Picasso usually referred to Marie-Therese in codes in his painting, he painted her in a form of a vase, a fruit, a bowl and even his own penis, but not in this case, nude, green leaves and bust shows us a lot of details about what Marie-Therese looked like, with keeping the low profile and the mystery in the setting where we see a curtain showing us that whatever he painted was private. Even if Marie-Therese’s appearance is clearer than pervious paintings, Nude, green leaves and bust still has many secrets, hidden symbols and messages.

Picasso’s face: When looking at the curtain we can notice, some kind of face outline that looks a lot like Picasso, his nose and his lips, his face looks like a shadow and is placed next to the sculpture of his muse, it highlights the secrecy of this forbidden relationship.

Marie-Therese’s sculpture: Above the couch we see a bust of Picasso’s muse, Picasso wanted us to focus on it and gave it a 3d effect, painting it with a palette knife, it is placed on a pedestal, which shows us how much Picasso admired her and how highly he looked at her to place her on a pedestal. It also looks like herma, which were head statues, used by ancient Greeks, to represent, respect and worship their gods and goddesses, so Picasso saw Marie as a goddess here.

The sculpture in the painting was made by Picasso in the previous year according to the head of modern art in Christie’s, Conor Jordan. Love’s Tree: The Philodendron plant’s name origin is Greek, “philo” that means affection and love and “Dendron” tree. A plant that symbolizes health and wealth, according to Nasa The heartleaf Philodendron is a really efficient plant in improving the air quality.

Picasso also had a personal experience with this plant, as mentioned in Roland Penrose’s biography book “Picasso his life and work” he said he like the plant because of its “Overwhelming vitality” The story is mentioned in John Richardson’s book the triumphant years”. He once left one that had been given him in Paris in the bathroom, where it would be sure to have plenty of water while he was away in the south. On his return he found that it had completely filled the little room with luxuriant growth and also completely backed the drain with its roots". Which shows us how much the relationship he had with Marie-Therese’s is overwhelmed him. He also used the Philodendron in a previous work, his kinetic art “woman in the garden” in 1929. The forbidden fruit: Beside his muse, Picasso painted a plate that contained 3 apples, a biblical symbol, which represents, temptation, sexual seduction, sweetness and sensuality. It is also associated with the female anatomy.

Submission: The two shadow lines over Marie’s curvy erotic naked body show us how submissive Marie-Therese was to Picasso, her eyes closed which shows us how she surrendered to and trusted him, the painting was painted in the great depression period, where men loved to dominate and control. Marie was exactly the type of girl Picasso liked shorter than him and submissive.

While we don’t know a lot of details about their sexual life, we know that Marie-Therese told their daughter that she resisted for six months, until she was seduced for the first time on her 18th birthday. But that was a story to protect him since being sexually active with a minor was an offence, Picasso liked adventures and for him rebellion was a turn on and it fired passion in him. He used to read her De Sade a French philosopher who was known for his libertine sexuality as told by their daughter Maya. In an interview with Marina Picasso’s granddaughter she described Picasso as a cruel animal saying “He submitted them to his animal sexuality, tamed them, bewitched them, ingested them, and crushed them onto his canvas. After he had spent many nights extracting their essence, once they were bled dry, he would dispose of them”.

Marie was the greatest sexual tension of Picasso’s life, she had no boundaries, no taboos, she was submissive and open to all Picasso’s experimentations including sadism. She was a sexual object that only Picasso possessed, which fed Picasso’s ego and proofed his power. She cried in his presence and she bowed her head in front of him.

With the two casted shadows we see the possession and Picasso himself talked about this and said ”For ten years I’ve lived with this woman, she is mine, mine alone, she loves me” ”Born in my studio, she must stay virginally there”. The sexual obsession turned into sexual dominance.

When Marie-Therese got pregnant and delivered Maya, Picasso 55 years old met a woman who later became extremely important to both his career and his life.

A woman who was very different than the girl Picasso was seeing, Marie-Therese the soft, submissive, sensual, athletic young girl, to Dora the artist, sharp, self-confidante, powerful woman.

Dora 28 years old woman with ambition, studied photography and shared not only the love of art with Picasso, but also his native language Spanish. They had a brief meeting in 1935, where Paul Eluard introduced them to each other. Dora was the type of a women who didn’t get interested quickly, so she didn’t remember their first meeting, in order for her to remember him she needed a more dramatic encounter. Time passed and they met again in Les Deux Magots, a place where Picasso visited often. Dora was sitting on a table near Picasso, wearing rose embroidered black gloves, what caught Pablo’s eyes was the game she was playing, Spreading her fingers apart on the table and with the other hand stabbing a knife rapidly between her stretched fingers in a fixed pattern, he couldn’t resist but ask her to have her blood-stained gloves as a souvenir. Dora’s self-mutilation was a turn on for Picasso’s adventurous heart. After that they accidently ended up together at Saint Tropez in Lise Deharme’s house who was Dora’s good friend. He started painting her in different forms a bird, a flower, a water nymph…In figure 3 Dora Maar en forme d’oiseau and he sketched her in a very powerful form, giving her a body of a bird.

The painting tells us a lot about Dora’s personality and how Picasso saw her, since birds symbolize power and freedom. And figure 4 portrait of Dora Maar, is also the same but here he used an Owl, which is a symbol for wisdom used by ancient Greeks. In both figure 3 and 4 we can see how Picasso saw her sexually with her breasts and lips being in focus.

Comparing these two sketches with the painting Nude, green leaves and bust, we can see how different these two muses were sexually. One tied up submissive and the other being free and powerful. This was the beginning where Picasso had a new flame in his life Dora.

Updated: Feb 15, 2024
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The Influence Of Marie-These And Dora Maar On The Changes in Picasso’s Evolving Feelings. (2024, Feb 15). Retrieved from

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