Tête de Femme
Tête de Femme (Bloch 321)

1939 (June 22, Paris)

Burin on copper plate, printed on Montval laid paper with Vollard watermark
From the edition of 57
Printed by Lacourière, 1942
Image: 15 3/8 x 10 inches
Sheet: 17 5/8 x 13 3/8 inches 
Framed: 25 1/2 x 21 1/2 inches
(Bloch 321) (Baer 669.B)

Picasso’s images of Dora Maar tend to reflect his own anxieties and emotional distress. This drypoint was completed in June of 1939, shortly before World War II broke out. Political tensions were building, and artists were now becoming a target for Nazi zeal—an auction of work from the infamous “Entartete Kunst” (Degenerate Art) exhibition was held that month in Lucerne, Switzerland, and it included four of Picasso’s works. As he watched the Nazis villainize his fellow German artists, Picasso became concerned for his safety and career should they invade France—his status as a foreigner would make it all the easier for them.
Such tensions and concerns are evident in Tête de Femme. He has given Maar a fractured appearance that reflects the duress felt throughout Europe in the early part of 1939—she seems literally about to shatter. The vortices that compose her face converge at a circle on her left cheek, as if to suggest the eye of a storm. Her expression remains composed, but pensive. As the year progressed and war was underway, his portraits of Maar became increasingly deranged and distorted.


The current impression is one of fifty seven printed on Montval by Roger Lacourière in 1942.