Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Antonieta Rivas Mercado, Karoline von Günderrode, and Marina Tsvetaeva, are part of the list of artists who succumbed to the misfortune of deception, loneliness, abandonment, and heartbreak. Pablo Picasso, surely the great love of all of them, was the one who buried in the depths of their souls a stake of disillusionment.
He wounded their hearts without reparation and burned all their hopes without leaving a trace. With their souls black the afflicted poets, painters, sculptors and writers tried to continue, however time was not their redemption, but their undoing.
The great passion that characterizes all the romances of the art world is the same that has led some of them to get lost in the tide of passion, sink in the sands of uncertainty, and brush death by the hand of loneliness. No one will ever know what it was that convinced these women, with noble hearts and weak wills, that life without them was meaningless. What once made them the muses of other artists was not enough for any of them to cling to life.
They were not the only ones, nor will they be the last women whose lives were destroyed by a man. We would only have to mention seven others to remember the women who suffered from love, madness, and something more after meeting Pablo Picasso. The incomparable artist who transcended the art world as the greatest cubist exponent also meant a before and after in the lives of seven women who at some point wished they had never met him.
1. Jaqueline Roque, the most “hated” of Picasso’s muses
Jaqueline was left completely alone when her mother died of a stroke at the age of 18. Two years later she married André Hutin, with whom she had a daughter and from whom she separated when she discovered that her husband was unfaithful. To leave behind the great disappointment Jaqueline and her daughter traveled to the French Riviera, where she began working at the Madoura pottery in Vallauris. In the French village, in 1953, Jaqueline met Picasso at the age of 27. But it wasn’t until their second meeting inside the pottery where she worked, that Picasso and Roque let themselves be carried away by their feelings and secretly married six months later.
From the beginning of their relationship, Picasso painted Jacqueline on numerous occasions. In fact, the only person whose presence he tolerated while painting in his studio was hers. The couple was more than close, almost fused, and rarely left the house without each other.
Jacqueline Roque is the most hated of Picasso’s muses, for it is said that she was the one who locked up the minotaur, who forbade the entrance of his heirs to his funeral, and who isolated Picasso until his death.
During the last years of the painter’s life, Jacqueline began to drink excessively, affected by her husband’s agony and their complicated relationship with Picasso’s children and grandchildren. She lost the light that the painter fell in love with when he first saw her emerald eyes. In April 1973 Picasso died and Jacqueline fell into a deep depression that she never managed to overcome; in the early morning of October 15, 1986 the greatest muse of the cubist took away her life.
2. Dora Maar, the grieving muse
Despite the obstacles, his passion for love exploded, taking everything in its path. As with his previous romances, Picasso portrayed Dora Maar dozens of times. She was his model, his mesmerizing muse, until 1943 when it all ended. As usual, the artist got bored of drawing the same curves so he replaced her with Françoise Gilot, then Dora descended with a painful fall into the flames of hell until she ended up in a psychiatric hospital where she received several applications of electroshocks included.
Sheltered in religion, far away from reality, and separated from a world in which for some years she was one of the essential queens of Pablo Picasso, Dora died at the age of 89 completely alone and with a pain in her heart that the enigmatic artist sowed in her since he abandoned her.
3. Marie-Thérèse Walter, Picasso’s little girl
“You have an interesting face, I would like to do a portrait of you, I think we are going to do great things together, I am Picasso”. On January 8, 1927, the painter intercepted Marie, a blonde girl leaving the Galeries Lafayette, with that phrase. The 17-year-old Swedish girl living in Paris captivated the Spaniard in an instant. She had never heard of him, despite that and the fact that the painter was married to the Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova at the time, the two began a working relationship that quickly ended in another erotic and secret affair of the great Picasso.
In 1932, a key year for Picasso’s work, the intense furtive love was revealed to the eyes of the public. Olga, the author’s current wife at the time, refused to give the consecrated artist a divorce unless he granted her 50% of his estate. Despite the natural sexuality that Marie unleashed in Pablo’s paintings, he ended up getting tired of the complicated battle against Olga, his wife. So he distanced himself from both of them so that with the arrival of the Spanish Civil War they would both know that he had already begun another relationship with the photographer Dora Maar.
In 1977, Marie-Thérèse took her own life and many say that the young woman with whom Picasso once fell in love never managed to bear the absence of the man she had known for 50 years. The same man with whom she spent her entire adolescence without learning to be anything more than Picasso’s girl.
4. Francoise Gilot, the woman who left Picasso
With her the story of romance and passion was different. Gilot was the only woman who left Picasso. Only she preferred not to sacrifice herself for the monster of the seven lovers and that is why today she is still alive to tell the tale. Gilot had seen her beloved in joy and fury, she knew how he acted when he fell in love with a woman and she also knew what the painter did when he began to forget them.
Gilot discovered that the author painted them all for a whole period in order to leave on the canvas everything he felt for them. Then he would abandon them, exchange them; his painting was his catharsis. Unlike the others, Françoise also painted and understood how an artist’s soul worked, so when she felt that he had begun to paint her too much to forget her, she went ahead and decided to leave him alone with her eternal memories in paint.
As much as Gilot loved Picasso, she decided to become the woman who left Picasso so that she would not be another one of those he first abandoned to be hung on the wall.
5. Olga Khokhlova, Picasso’s most ambitious muse
Olga Khokhlova was born in Niezin (now Ukraine) on June 12, 1891, was 25 years old when she met Picasso and was definitely the woman who most influenced the Malaga artist, as the painter had a radical change in his pictorial style since the beginning of his romance with the Russian dancer.
In 1918, the couple married and despite becoming inseparable, the end of the idyll was irremediable. The extreme cohabitation they had only served to highlight their incompatibility. One day, at the end of 1927, fleeing from one of his increasingly frequent and violent quarrels with Olga, Picasso strolled through Paris and on leaving Galeries Lafayette met Marie-Thérèse Walter, who would be his next muse.
“I am Olga Khokhlova. I supported the genius with affection for more than 12 years. I was legally his first wife and, like almost all of them, he abandoned me. I gave birth to his first son, Pablo.” Those were the words of Picasso’s most ambitious muse, who was hospitalized in a clinic after a severe crisis caused by unhealthy jealousy because despite suffering for having been abandoned by her husband, she was the only one who managed to marry the artist and the first to give birth to Picasso’s legacy.
6. Eva Gouel, the muse that death snatched away from Picasso
“Ma Jolie” was the affectionate expression as Picasso referred to Eva, the muse who also could not stay with the painter forever. Before being abandoned by him, illness took Gouel’s last breath forever and the beautiful porcelain-skinned young woman became another of the author’s artistic periods. Gouel shared much of his life with Picasso, whom he tried to serve despite the difficulties that cancer caused him. Cancer managed to separate the cubist from one of his muses when Eva died on December 14, 1915.
7. Geneviève Laporte, the muse who escaped from Picasso
Pablo Picasso made numerous works by Geneviève, with whom he also had an affair, but unlike other women of the painter, she never wanted to move in with the Malaga artist, because the poet Paul Eduard warned her that Picasso killed everything he loved. However, Laporte also suffered the chaotic and furtive romances of the author.
At the age of 17, in 1944, Geneviève Laporte interviewed Picasso for a school newspaper. Years later, in May 1951, Picasso began a fast relationship with Laporte while living with Françoise Gilot. In the summer of 1951, Picasso took Laporte to Saint-Tropez, but when she learned that Gilot was waiting for him at home she refused to stay and live with him.
The women in the life of the painter from Malaga were seven and among them, Picasso’s love was divided, but also his selfishness. What many have come to wonder is who he really loved. But the only thing that is known so far is that no one inspired him as much as Jacqueline Roque, with whom he spent the last years of his life and whom he portrayed more times; today 282 works of Picasso’s favorite muse are known.
Almost on a par, with 262, was Dora Maar, with whom the artist maintained a relationship from the Civil War until the end of World War II. She was followed by Marie-Thérèse Walter, mother of his daughter Maya; and Françoise Gilot, mother of Claude and Paloma, his youngest daughters. Although he also painted all three of them, they did not come close to what his great muse inspired in Picasso.
Love can be art but it can also be destructive, for example, Pablo Picasso and the women who played a part in his life.
This article was originally published by Olympia Villagrán and has been updated by Cultura Colectiva in Spanish