The Weeping Woman

Pablo Picasso
Spanish, 1881–1973
The Weeping Woman, I
Drypoint, aquatint, etching, and scraper on paper
Private Collection
© 2017 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Soon after Marie-Thérèse Walter gave birth to their daughter Maya, and while still married to but separated from Olga Khokhlova, Picasso began a relationship with the Surrealist photographer Dora Maar. As was his pattern, this new muse began to appear frequently in his work, including in the striking painting Portrait of Dora Maar (1937). The physiological elements in the painting, including sharp fingernails and coiffed black hair, reappear in one of Picasso’s most powerful graphic works, The Weeping Woman, I. A ferocious image of grief, at once compelling and frightening, the print is one of the largest created in the wake of his iconic painting Guernica (1937) in which a similar tormented figure appeared. Guernica expresses the horrors of war, its title referring to the undefended town in the Basque region of northern Spain, which was bombed by General Francisco Franco’s fascist troops. After completing Guernica, Picasso undertook a series of drawings, paintings, and prints depicting the subject of the “weeping woman.” In the large-scale print, as in the two smaller manifestations of the subject—The Weeping Woman, III and The Weeping Woman, IV—the figure is distorted in a silent shriek of pain. The woman, who resembles Dora Maar, raises a scissor-like hand to wipe away the spiked tears that incise the overlapping planes of her contorted face.