The Muse

Pablo Picasso
Spanish, 1881–1973
Woman at the Window
Sugar-lift aquatint on paper
Collection of Catherine Woodard and Nelson Blitz, Jr.
© 2017 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The final two muses in Picasso’s life were the painter Françoise Gilot and Jacqueline Roque, his second wife and companion of twenty years. Picasso met Roque in the summer of 1952 while she was working at the Madoura Pottery Works in the south of France—the same time that his relationship with Gilot was deteriorating.

Picasso had a complex relationship with women. He once argued: “There are only two types of women—goddesses and doormats.” Such misogynist statements align with historical understandings of Picasso’s various muses as passive. But for Picasso the relationship was much more complicated; as his goddesses, these muses inspired his art and were the foundation of his family life. While it is perhaps easier to understand these women as servile, they were essential to Picasso’s life and art as collaborators and partners.