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Front Cover – Picasso - Dream (1932)

 

The year 1927 could not have started more propitiously for Picasso. At six o'clock in the evening of January 8, while cruising the grands boulevards in search of I'amour fou, the forty-five-year-old artist came upon the femme-enfant of his dreams: an adolescent blonde with piercing, cobalt blue eyes and a precociously voluptuous body—big breasts, sturdy thighs, well-cushioned knees, and buttocks like the Callipygian Venus. Physically, the girl was the antithesis of skinny Olga and the boyish, flat-chested flapper look that was de rigueur in the 1920s. Marie-Therese Leontine Walter was seventeen and a half years old. For the next nine years or so, she would be Picasso's greatest love. Before her death in 1977 (fifty years after meet­ing Picasso), Marie-Therese, who was unusually truthful, allowed herself to be inter­viewed by Lydia Gasman in 1972 and Pierre Cabanne in 1977. Gasman was particularly successful in winning her confidence and persuading her to talk without constraint about the first meeting and the nature of her relationship with Picasso.3

Marie-Therese told Gasman that after shopping at the Galeries Lafayette for a col Claudine—a "Peter Pan collar"—and matching cuffs, she had been accosted by Picasso. His broad smile, beautiful red-and-black tie, wide gold ring off an expensive umbrella, and huge mesmeric eyes instantly disarmed her. She remembered him say­ing, "You have an interesting face. I would like to do a portrait of you. I feel we are going to do great things together." "I am Picasso," he announced. The name meant nothing to Marie-Therese, so he took her to a bookstore and showed her a book about him—in Chinese or Japanese, she thought. The fact that he was a painter touched her, "because my mother had had a great romance with a painter. It seemed as if the same story were about to begin all over again." Picasso's comment that she was beautiful gave Marie-Therese particular pleasure. Hitherto her family had teased her for having an ugly "Greek" nose instead of a cute little Parisian retrousse one.

 

John Richardson - A Life of Picasso Vol 3 – p323