16 Times Artist Pablo Picasso Would Have Been Called Out During the #MeToo Movement
16 Times Artist Pablo Picasso Would Have Been Called Out During the #MeToo Movement

16 Times Artist Pablo Picasso Would Have Been Called Out During the #MeToo Movement

Trista - October 11, 2018

16 Times Artist Pablo Picasso Would Have Been Called Out During the #MeToo Movement
A photograph of Pablo Picasso in 1912. Wikimedia.

14. Picasso Impregnated a Mistress

While married to his first wife, Olga Khokhlova, Picasso began an affair with the 17-year-old Marie-Thérèse Walter. According to Walter, the first time she met Picasso, he accosted her and said, in her words, “You have an interesting face. I would like to do a portrait of you. I feel we are going to do great things together.”

Picasso quickly became obsessed with Walter and hid her away from a secret apartment and told no one about their relationship. She became one of his great muses, inspiring many of his paintings. It is believed his wife may have become aware of Walter by finding one of his numerous sketches and portraits of her.

In 1935, while Picasso’s first wife was struggling with unknown “gynecological troubles” and having surgery, Walter became pregnant with Picasso’s child. They had a daughter named Maya the same year. Soon after, Picasso met the surrealist painter Dora Maar. When the two women met and demanded he pick between them, he encouraged them to fight over him physically and remarked later that it was one of his favorite memories. Picasso continued to support Walter and their daughter after they moved away from him. Walter committed suicide after Picasso’s death.

16 Times Artist Pablo Picasso Would Have Been Called Out During the #MeToo Movement
A photograph of Dora Maar. Artsy.

15. Another of Picasso’s Muses Required Psychiatric Treatment After Infidelity

After Picasso lost his affection for his long-time muse Marie-Thérèse Walter, he fell madly in love with the surrealist painter Dora Maar. She became the muse for his famous painting The Weeping Woman. She was the dark to Marie-Thérèse Walter’s light in both physical appearance and energy. Walter was a blonde, cheerful and athletic woman who didn’t stimulate Picasso intellectually while Maar was brooding, dark, and a fellow artist who challenged Picasso.

However, despite the seemingly natural pairing of two troubled artists, Picasso turned his attention to another woman after spending almost a decade with Maar. This time, it was a woman 40 years Picasso’s junior and 20 years younger than Maar: the young artist Françoise Gilot. Picasso left Maar for Gilot in 1946, after which Maar fell into a deep depression.

Maar eventually suffered what was known at the time as a nervous breakdown. Her depression and reclusiveness became so severe that she sought out psychiatric help. She was subjected to electroshock therapy which was, at the time, a conventional treatment for severe depression and other mental illnesses (and sadly often for homosexuality). After her medicine, she became a devout Catholic and was described as nun-like in her chastity and behavior.

16 Times Artist Pablo Picasso Would Have Been Called Out During the #MeToo Movement
A photograph of Marie-Thérèse Walter. The Guardian.

16. He Kept One of His Muses Hidden Away For Over a Decade

When Picasso wrote of women being either doormats or goddesses, he may well have had Marie-Thérèse Walter in mind as his doormat. Walter was, by all accounts, an extremely agreeable woman who was entirely happy to devote her life to being an artistic muse for Picasso. He met Walter while still married to his first wife, Olga Khokhlova, and quickly became obsessed with her. He was so fixated on her that he went to the trouble and expense of securing a private apartment to keep her isolated and to himself.

Picasso managed to hide the existence of Walter from his wife and even from his closest friends for many years. While many of his friends knew that he had a mistress who was also serving as an artistic muse, they didn’t know her name or even her appearance beyond what they saw in sketches and portraits. Picasso reportedly did not find the athletic and unassuming Walter intellectually stimulating, so perhaps this partly explains why he seemed to make no effort to introduce her into his artistic circles as he did with so many of his later mistresses.

Ultimately, Walter was hidden away from both the art world and Picasso’s personal world for almost a decade. In that time, she inspired numerous paintings, sketches, and etchings. Walter gave birth to their daughter, Maya in 1935. Picasso’s first wife learned that Picasso had a pregnant mistress earlier that year and moved with their son. Picasso left Walter shortly after the birth of their daughter in favor of a new and younger mistress. Walter’s life tragically ended in suicide four years after Picasso’s death in 1973.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Good – When #MeToo Comes For Picasso

The Independent – Picasso The Seducer Was More Sinned Against Than Sinning

Nancy Schoenberger – Dangerous Muse: The Life of Lady Caroline Blackwood

ThoughtCo – Picasso’s Women: Wives, Lovers, and Muses

Hindusthan Times – Olga Khokhlova, Pablo Picasso’s Tragic First Wife, Is A Mystery No More

Art Space – The Picasso Problem: Why We Shouldn’t Separate the Art From the Artist’s Misogyny

Another Magazine – The Show Exploring Picasso’s Relationship with His Daughter

Mutual Art – Gertrude Stein: A Woman With an Unparalleled Drive for Art

The New York Times – ‘Loving Picasso: The Private Journal of Fernande Olivier’