In the early 1930s, Picasso returned to sculptural modeling after a break of some twenty years. He had recently bought a château in Boisgeloup, forty miles outside Paris, and converted a stable on the property into a sculpture studio, catalyzing a period of intense sculptural production. Picasso's inspiration for Head of a Woman was his young companion, Marie-Thérèse Walter, whose features, he felt, lent themselves to representation in a classical mode. The sculpture was reproduced soon after its creation in the inaugural issue of the Surrealist journal Minotaure. The Surrealists claimed Picasso as one of their own, enchanted in part by his unruly and irreverent play with ideas of the classical.
from Focus: Picasso Sculpture, July 3–November 3, 2008