Pablo Picasso. Girl before a Mirror. Boisgeloup, March 1932

Pablo Picasso

Girl before a Mirror

Boisgeloup, March 1932

Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
64 x 51 1/4" (162.3 x 130.2 cm)
Credit
Gift of Mrs. Simon Guggenheim
Object number
2.1938
Copyright
© 2016 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Painting and Sculpture
This work is on view on Floor 5, in a Collection Gallery, with 11 other works online.
Pablo Picasso has 1,238 works online.
There are 2,242 paintings online.

Girl Before a Mirror shows Picasso's young mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter, one of his favorite subjects in the early 1930s. Her white-haloed profile, rendered in a smooth lavender pink, appears serene. But it merges with a more roughly painted, frontal view of her face—a crescent, like the moon, yet intensely yellow, like the sun, and "made up" with a gilding of rouge, lipstick, and green eye-shadow. Perhaps the painting suggests both Walter's day-self and her night-self, both her tranquillity and her vitality, but also the transition from an innocent girl to a worldly woman aware of her own sexuality.

It is also a complex variant on the traditional Vanity—the image of a woman confronting her mortality in a mirror, which reflects her as a death's head. On the right, the mirror reflection suggests a supernatural x-ray of the girl's soul, her future, her fate. Her face is darkened, her eyes are round and hollow, and her intensely feminine body is twisted and contorted. She seems older and more anxious. The girl reaches out to the reflection, as if trying to unite her different "selves." The diamond-patterned wallpaper recalls the costume of the Harlequin, the comic character from the commedia dell'arte with whom Picasso often identified himself—here a silent witness to the girl's psychic and physical transformations.

Girl Before a Mirror. 1932

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 161

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
Paul Rosenberg, Paris
Valentine Gallery, New York (Valentine Dudensing). Brought to New York, on consignment from Paul Rosenberg, in 1936 - 1937
Mrs. Simon Guggenheim, New York. Purchased from Valentine Gallery, December 1937 - 1938
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mrs. Simon Guggenheim, 1938

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Licensing of MoMA images and videos is handled by Art Resource (North America) and Scala Archives (all other geographic locations). All requests should be addressed directly to those agencies, which supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.