Head of a Woman
c. 1927
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
On View

In 1927 Picasso embarked on a series of paintings that radically reduce the human head to a simple black line with distorted, often redistributed facial features. While some versions of this theme were overtly threatening, with gaping mouths displaying razor-sharp teeth, Head of a Woman is more subdued in mood. Picasso’s experimental approach to the body at this moment owes much to the influence of Surrealism, and the movement’s desire to express the unseen and instinctual aspects of human experience. Like many Surrealist images, Head of a Woman confounds straightforward interpretation. Some scholars have related the pursed mouth with its stitch-like suggestions of teeth to Picasso’s frustrations with his deteriorating marriage to Olga Picasso. Others, however, trace the curvilinear shape of the head to Picasso’s new lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, whose rounded features and short, straight hair appeared in many of the artist’s paintings over the next ten years.


  • Artist Name: Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
  • Title: Head of a Woman
  • Date: c. 1927
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 21-5/8 x 13-1/8 in. (54.9 x 33.3 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Museum, The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection
  • Accession Number: P.1953.074
  • Copyright: © Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Object Information

The artist, sold to;
[Galerie Percier, Paris, sold December 1932 to];
Galka Scheyer;
Pasadena Art Institute, Pasadena, 1953-1954;
Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena,1954-1975;
Norton Simon Museum, 1975.
  • The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection, Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena,no. 428
  • Barnett, Vivian Endicott, The Blue Four Collection at the Norton Simon Museum,no. 405 pp. 404-405
  • Tériade, E., Cahiers d'Art, p. 73
  • Zervos, Christian, Pablo Picasso: Oeuvres de 1926 à 1932,no. 122
  • Kunstaus Zurich, Picasso: 11 September bis 13 November 1932,1932, no. 173
  • Robert Rosenblum, "Picasso as Surrealist",1966, repr. p. 21
Impressions: Parsing Picasso’s 1932 Retrospective

Additional Artwork by Artist

Suite Vollard, 1939, Paris Pablo Picasso 1930-37
Suite Vollard, 1939, Paris: At the Bath Pablo Picasso October 17, 1930
Suite Vollard, 1939, Paris: Man Unveiling a Woman Pablo Picasso June 20, 1931

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