Modern and Contemporary Art
Torso of a Woman
In the summer of 1953, Françoise Gilot―who had been Picasso’s partner for seven years―decided finally to leave him and their home in Vallauris, and to return to Paris with their two children. Several weeks before her departure, between June 7th and July 17th, Picasso painted eight portraits of Françoise, the last of which was Torso of a Woman.
This painting is emblematic of the compositions that Picasso had been making since the late 1930s, and in which he positioned a clearly defined figure against a neutral ground and depicted it with loose brushstrokes. Picasso habitually employed stylistic elements he had used earlier in his career, especially during his Cubist period. In Torso of a Woman, he used one of his basic Cubist strategies, simultaneously depicting the figure both frontally and in profile.
In her book Life with Picasso, Françoise Gilot recounts that when painting portraits of her, Picasso would devote a great deal of time to depicting the shape of her head, which he often painted and erased many times. Evidence of such changes can be seen in Torso of a Woman to the right of the head, in the traces of a triangle peering through the layers of paint.