Picasso's Women: Wives, Lovers and Flirtations

Before Viagra, Pablo Picasso - at the age of 62 - was able to juggle one wife and three mistresses.

Picasso's sexuality fueled his art. Find out more about Picasso's love interests and mild flirtations in this chronologically arranged list of liaisons.

01
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© 2006 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Used with permission
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973). The Two Saltimbanques (Harlequin and his Companion), 1901. Oil on canvas. 28 7/16 x 23 3/8 in. (73 x 60 cm). Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow. © 2006 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Picasso met the model Germaine Gargallo Florentin Pichot in Paris in 1900 when she became the girlfriend of Picasso's Catalan friend Carlos or Carles Casagemos. Casagemos committed suicide in February 1901 when Germaine spurned his advances and Picasso took up with Germaine when he returned to Paris in May 1901. Germaine married Picasso's friend Ramon Pichot in 1906.

02
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Madeleine, Summer 1904

© 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973). Woman with a Helmet of Hair, 1904. Gouache on tan wood pulp board 42.7 x 31.3 cm (16 3/4 x 12 5/16 in.) Signed and dated recto, upper left, in blue gouache: "Picasso / 1904." Bequest of Kate L. Brewster, 1950.128 Art Institute of Chicago. © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Art Institute of Chicago

Her Connection to Pablo Picasso:

Lover

Madeleine was the name of a model who posed for the young Spanish artist Pablo Picasso when he first arrived in Paris during the fall in 1904. She was his mistress too.

According to Picasso, she became pregnant and had an abortion. Picasso drew images of mothers with their babies as if to remember what might have been. He remarked, when a drawing surfaced in 1968, that he would have had a 64 year-old child by then.

Unfortunately, that is everything we know about Madeleine. Where she came from, where she went after leaving Picasso, when she died, and even her last name are lost to history.

Known Examples of Madeleine in Picasso's Art:

Madeleine's face appears in Picasso's late Blue Period works:

  • Woman in a Chemise, Paris, 1904, Tate Gallery, London.
  • Madeleine Crouching, Paris, 1904, Musée d'Art Moderne, Saint-Etienne.
  • Woman with a Helmet of Hair, Paris, 1904, Art Institute of Chicago.
  • Portrait of Madeleine, Paris, 1904, Musée Picasso, Paris.
  • Mother and Child, Paris, 1904, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University.

Source:

Richardson, John. A Life of Picasso, Volume 1: 1881-1906.
New York: Random House, 1991.

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Pablo Picasso - Head of Woman (Fernande), 1909
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973). Head of Woman (Fernande), 1909. Oil on canvas. 65 x 55 cm. Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main. © Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The early twentieth century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso met his first great love Fernande Olivier near his studio in Montmartre in 1904. She inspired his Rose Period works and the early Cubists paintings and sculptures. They ended their relationship in 1912.

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Pablo Picasso - Woman with a Guitar (Ma Jolie), 1911-12
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973). Woman with a Guitar (Ma Jolie), 1911-12. Oil on canvas. 39 3/8 x 25 3/4 in. (100 x 64.5 cm). Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. 176.1945. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Picasso fell in love with Eva Gouel, also known as Marcelle Humbert, while he was still living with Fernande Olivier. He declared his love for the fair Eva in his Cubist painting Woman with a Guitar ("Ma Jolie") in 1911.

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Gabrielle (Gaby) Depreye Lespinesse, 1915 - 1916

Her Connection to Pablo Picasso:

Lover

Date and Place of Birth:

1880, Paris

The story of Picasso's love affair with Gaby Depeyre was revealed by John Richardson in an article in House and Gardens in 1987 and his second volume of A Life of Picasso (1996). Richardson claims that their romance was a secret that they kept to themselves throughout their lives.

Apparently, it began during Eva Gouel's final months. Gaby and Picasso may have met when André Salmon recommended to Picasso that he catch one of her shows. Salmon remembers that she was a singer or dancer in a Parisian cabaret, and he referred to her as "Gaby la Catalane." But Richardson believes this information may not be reliable. She may have been a friend of Eva's or Irène Lagut, Picasso's next lover.

Evidence of Gaby's affair with Picasso came to light after her death, when her niece decided to sell the paintings, collages and drawings Picasso created during their clandestine relationship. Based on the subject matter in the works, it appears they spent time together in the South of France. Richardson deduces their hide-away may have been Herbert Lespinasse's home in St. Tropez.

Lespinasse, whom Gaby married in 1917, was an American who lived most of his life in France. Known for his engravings, he and Picasso had many friends in common, including Moise Kisling, Juan Gris and Jules Pascin. His home on the Baie des Canoubiers in St. Tropez attracted many of these Parisian artists.

Gaby and Picasso's tryst took place in 1915. Their relationship may have started when Eva spent time in a nursing home after her operation to remove her cancer. If so, this would have been around January or February of that year.

There is evidence from Gaby's collection (most of which belongs to the Musée Picasso in Paris) that Picasso asked her to marry him. Evidently, she refused.

Herbert Lespinasse died in 1972. Gaby's niece sold her aunt's collection after his death.

Date and Place of Death

1970, St. Tropez?

Source:

Richardson, John with Marilyn McCully, A Life of Picasso, Volume II: 1907-1917.

New York: Random House, 1996.

Glueck, Grace, "Secret Picasso Affair Revealed," New York Times, September 17, 1987,

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Paquerette (Emilienne Geslot), Summer 1916

Picasso seemed to have a relationship with Paquerette during the summer and fall of 1916. She was an actress and model for the high-society couturier Paul Poiret. 

07
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Image © Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; used with permission
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973). The Lovers, 1923. Oil on linen. 51 1/4 x 38 1/4 in. (130.2 x 97.2 cm). Chester Dale Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Image © Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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Olga Khoklova, 1917 - 1962

09
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Sara Murphy, 1923?

10
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Marie-Therese Walter, 1927 - 1973

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Dora Maar (Henriette Theodora Markovitch) 1936 - 1943

12
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Nusch Eluard (Marie Benz), 1937-1939?

13
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Francoise Gilot, 1943 - 1953

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Jacqueline Roque, 1953 - 1973

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Sylvette David (Lydia Corbett David), 1954-55?

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Helene Parmelin (Helene Jungenson), 1950s?