Pablo Picasso. Girl before a Mirror. Boisgeloup, March 14, 1932

Pablo Picasso

Girl before a Mirror

Boisgeloup, March 14, 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
© 2017 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 12 other works online.
Pablo Picasso has 1,242 works online.
There are 2,326 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.

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 email provenance@moma.org or write to:

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

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA's collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

If you would like to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA, please contact Scala Archives (all geographic locations) at firenze@scalarchives.com.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA's archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@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.