Picasso biographer John Richardson stopped in front of “Bather Wringing Her Hair,” in which the artist’s mistress and muse Francoise Gilot appears as an awkwardly arched nude with her hair twisted in her chubby fists.
Pablo Picasso met Francoise Gilot, then a 21-year-old painter, in a Paris restaurant in 1943 during the Nazi occupation, and the two became lovers. While artists such as Max Ernst fled Paris for the U.S., Picasso hung tough even though the Germans prohibited his art from being shown.
In Francoise Gilot’s 1964 memoir, “Life with Picasso,” a famous photograph shows the couple walking together at a sunny resort on France’s Cote d’Azur. Picasso, 40 years her senior, follows dutifully behind his beautiful mistress and holds a large beach umbrella high above her head -- as if he were her slave and she his princess.
The beautiful, sad-looking Olga Kokhlova, a dancer with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, sits with her right arm draped over the back of a chair, a partially open fan in her lap. The dark floral patterns of her dress and the upholstery stand out against the flat background of pale gold.