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Woman with a Guitar, 1913

Pablo Picasso

Spanish, 1881-1973
Oil on canvas
39-5/8 x 32-1/8 in. (100 x 81.6 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection
P.1953.073
© 2014 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

Painted in early 1913, this composition exemplifies the style known as Synthetic Cubism. At left, a fragment of green faux-marble paneling evokes the interior of a Parisian cafe, while a series of circles, lines, and curves arranged along the central vertical axis suggests facial features, a guitar, and a hand grasping the instrument’s neck. Picasso’s previous work in papier collé (a form of collage) here inflects his practice as a painter, layering a trompe l’oeil element (the highly realistic faux-marble slab) over an emphatically abstract line drawing. As in many Cubist portraits, the gender of the sitter, and even the type of instrument, portrayed here have been subject to interpretation. Titled “Femme avec une guitare” (Woman with a Guitar) in the inventory of Daniel Kahnweiler, the artist’s principal dealer in the 1910s, the picture was variously described by subsequent owners and critics as “Personnage tenant une mandoline” (Person Holding a Mandolin) and “Joueur de mandoline” (Male Mandolin Player).

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