This Love

Pablo Picasso in his studio with a sculptural portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter. Photo possibly by Brassaï

 
 

“This love
So violent
So fragile
So tender
So hopeless
This love
Beautiful as the day
And bad as the weather
When the weather is bad
This love so true
This love so beautiful
So happy
So joyous
And so pathetic
Trembling with fear like a child in the dark
And so sure of itself
Like a tranquil man in the middle of the night
This love that made others afraid
That made them speak
That made them go pale
This love intently watched
Because we intently watch it
Run down hurt trampled finished denied forgotten
Because we ran it down hurt it trampled
it finished it denied it forgot it
This whole entire love
Still so lively
And so sunny
It’s yours
It’s mine
That which has been
This always new thing
And which hasn’t changed
As true as a plant
As trembling as a bird
As warm as live as summer
We can both of us
Come and go
We can forget
And then go back to sleep
Wake up suffer grow old
Go back to sleep again
Awake smile and laugh
And feel younger
Our love stays there
Stubborn as an ass
Lively as desire
Cruel as memory
Foolish as regrets
Tender as remembrance
Cold as marble
Beautiful as day
Fragile as a child
It watches us, smiling
And it speaks to us without saying a word
And me I listen to it, trembling
And I cry out
I cry out for you
I cry out for me
I beg you
For you for me for all who love each other
And who loved each other
Yes I cry out to it
For you for me and for all the others
That I don’t know
Stay there
There where you are
There where you were in the past
Stay there
Don’t move
Don’t go away
We who loved each other
We’ve forgotten you
Don’t forget us
We had only you on the earth
Don’t let us become cold
Always so much farther away
And anywhere
Give us a sign of life
Much later on a dark night
In the forest of memory
Appear suddenly
Hold your hand out to us
And save us”

 Jacques Prévert

French title: Cet amour

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Radiant in White

Woman’s Head (Marie-Thérèse) by Pablo Picasso. Brassaï, 1932. Photograph taken at Picasso’s sculpture workshop in Boisgeloup.

 
 

The photographer Brassaï visited Pablo Picasso’s studio in 1933 and commented on the classical and undulating character of the majority of works he found there: “He opened the door to one of those immense naves, and we could see, radiant in white, a city of sculptures… I was astonished by the roundness of all these forms. A new woman had entered Picasso’s life: Marie-Thérèse Walter

Blonde, Sunny and Bright

Marie-Thérèse Walter at 19 with her mother’s dog Dolly.

 
 

Marie-Thérèse Walter (13 July 1909 – 20 October 1977) was the French mistress and model of Pablo Picasso from 1927 to about 1935, and the mother of his daughter, Maya Widmaier-Picasso.

On 8 January 1927, Marie first met Picasso in front of the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Author Herbert T. Schwartz dates their first meeting back to January 1925, at Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris; whereas author Roy MacGregor-Hastie dates the encounter up to 8 January 1928.

At that time she was seventeen years old; he was 45 and still living with his first wife, Olga Khokhlova, a Russian ballerina, with whom he had a five-year-old son.

He and Marie-Thérèse, began a relationship, which was kept secret from his wife until 1935. From 1927 onwards, Walter lived close to Picasso’s family, who lived in an apartment provided by and next door to his art dealer and friend, Paul Rosenberg, in Rue La Boétie. From 1930, she stayed in a house opposite Picasso’s at Rue La Boétie 44. It ended when Picasso moved on to his next mistress, artist Dora Maar.

 
 

In Picasso’s paintings, Walter appears as blonde, sunny, and bright, as in Le Rêve (1932) or in Woman with Yellow Hair (1931), in contrast to his darker portrayal of Dora Maar, whom Picasso painted as the tortured “weeping woman”. Picasso documented their early years together, albeit cryptically, by including the monograms “MT” and “MTP” in his still lifes and portraits of the time.

 
 

In July 1930, Picasso bought a castle at Boisgeloup close to Gisors in the Normandie, which he used as a studio for sculptures mainly. Marie was the unseen shadow of the family and became his model and muse for both paintings and sculptures.

 
 

Marie-Thérèse nursing little Maya. Photograph by Pablo Picasso, 1936

 
 

In 1935, Marie became pregnant. When Picasso’s wife, Olga, was informed by a friend that her husband had a longtime mistress who was expecting a child, she immediately left Picasso and moved to the South of France with their son Paulo. Picasso and Olga never divorced, because Picasso wanted to avoid the even division of property dictated by French law; instead, they lived separately until her death in 1955.

On 5 September 1935, Picasso and Marie’s daughter, María de la Concepción, called “Maya”, was born. Marie and Maya stayed with Picasso at Juan-les-Pins in the South of France from 25 March to 14 May 1936, and then at Le Tremblay-sur-Mauldre, 25 kilometres from Versailles, where Picasso visited on the weekends and some weekdays to play with his daughter. Maya also modelled for some of his paintings, including Maya with Doll (1938).