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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 portrait painters of the twentieth century, Pablo Picasso was the one most visibly influenced by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. It was from Ingres that Picasso could best harness, and then synthesize, the linear abstractions and stringent realism subtly explored by the neo-classical artist, arriving at a careful balance that proved fundamental to the twentieth-century artist’s work. In Woman with a Book the connection is made explicit. Basing his work on one of Ingres’s extraordinary portrait of Ines Moitessier, Picasso transforms the earnestness of the mid-nineteenth century sitter into a dreamy portrait of his current lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter (1909–1977). The chromatic riot and the web of thick black lines describing the simplified forms of both her bourgeois interior and her ripe sexuality contrast with the dreamy mystery of the sitter’s gaze. In so doing, Picasso has, to be sure, updated the genre—highlighting at once the push and pull between realism and abstraction that lies at the heart of twentieth-century portraiture and of modern art over all.

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