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Woman with a Book, 1932

Pablo Picasso

Spanish, 1881-1973
Oil on canvas
51-3/8 x 38-1/2 in. (130.5 x 97.8 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1969.38.10.P
© 2013 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

On view

Among Picasso’s most celebrated likenesses of his lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, Woman with a Book balances sensuality and restraint, enclosing exuberant, thickly applied color in a network of sinuous black lines. The composition pays homage to the Neoclassical master of line, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, whose work Picasso had admired since his youth, and whose Portrait of Madame Moitessier the Spanish painter had first encountered in 1921. Resting his model’s head on her hand, and replacing Madame Moitessier’s fan with the fluttering pages of a book, Picasso tapped into the eroticism latent beneath Ingres’s image of bourgeois respectability. The serene profile reflected in a mirror at right in Picasso’s portrait likewise references its Neoclassical precedent but may also constitute an abstract self-portrait.

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