Portrait of Francoise

Pablo Picasso • Graphics, 1946, 66.5×50.8 cm
About the artwork
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Art form: Graphics
Subject and objects: Portrait
Style of art: Surrealism
Technique: Pencil
Materials: Paper
Date of creation: 1946
Size: 66.5×50.8 cm
Artwork in selections: 27 selections

Description of the artwork «Portrait of Francoise»

This small pencil drawing by Pablo Picasso in 1946 is one of the most lyrical and sensual portraits Francoise lived. And perhaps the most realistic of them. Picasso created this drawing at the very beginning of their relationship, in a period full of tenderness and sincere adoration. A few years later, when the alliance with Francoise has already begun to seam at the seams, Picasso will ruthlessly crush and distort the features of her face in his paintings, as has already happened with her predecessors.

Francoise Gilles is most often spoken of as Picasso's only lover, who found the strength to leave him first. They met in Paris in 1943, when the artist still lived with Dora Maar. Francoise became his “post-war” love, his nervous and drama-charged relationship with Dora ended with the war. A very young and very lively Francoise became for Picasso the embodiment of a new life and new hope. At the time of meeting she was 21 years old, he was 40 years older.

For some time, Picasso and Gilo lived in Paris, but after the war he took a new muse to the south of France. The artist could not marry her, because officially he still consisted married to Olga Khokhlova. Nevertheless, Francoise lived with him for almost 10 years and gave birth to two children from him - Claude and Paloma. Although not for long, their family was truly happy, and the children served as a powerful source of inspiration for both parents.

Happy times, however, ended rather quickly. Francoise was increasingly annoyed by Picasso's authority and despotism. He demanded constant attention from her, was jealous of friends and deprived Francoise of the opportunity to develop his own talent. At the same time, Picasso himself remained pathologically incorrect and spent a lot of time with Marie-Theres Walter and their common daughter Maya.

Their separation was inevitable, and it was then that Picasso showed himself from the most disgusting side. Unable to come to terms with the fact that the woman dared to leave him, he devastated their common house, taking with him many of Francoise’s belongings, her collection of books, gifted drawings, addressed letters to her, including letters from Henri Matisse. Picasso's last vengeful blow was that he used all his influence to get Francoise out of her gallery.

Fortunately, unlike other Picasso lovers, Francoise Gillet did not break and was not damaged by reason either during their life together or after the break. Moreover, she is still alive and leads a very eventful life for her venerable age. After parting with Picasso, Zhilo was finally able to fully reveal herself in her work and wrote several books (including about her life with Picasso). In 1970, she married virologist Jonas Salk (inventor of the polio vaccine) and happily lived with him 25 years until his death.

Author: Evgenia Sidelnikova