Throughout 1902, living in Barcelona for lack of money, Picasso painted scenes of deprivation and depression, haunted by a close friend’s suicide in Paris and by the memory of sketching prostitutes at the women’s prison of St. Lazare. Blue was rich in associations for the turn-of-the- century symbolists, suggesting night, evil, and death; it invaded the young artist’s palette at this time. “Melancholy Woman” probably portrays the mistress of his dead friend; a woman to whom Picasso himself felt attracted. She is shown in the guise of an inmate morosely staring at the wall of her cell.
Artist Pablo Picasso, Spanish, 1881-1973
  • Melancholy Woman
  • Femme assise au fichu (published title)
Date 1902
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 39 3/8 × 27 1/4 inches (100 × 69.2 cm)
Framed: 46 5/8 × 34 7/8 × 1 3/4 inches (118.4 × 88.6 × 4.4 cm)
Credit Line Bequest of Robert H. Tannahill
Accession Number 70.190
Department European Modern Art to 1950
On View Modern N200, Level 2 (see map)
Signed Signed, upper left: Picasso
ca. 1905, the artist, Pablo Picasso [1881-1973] (Paris, France).
Michael and Sarah Stein (Paris, France).
(Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler [1884-1979], probably Paris, France).
(Paul Guillaume [1891-1934], Paris, France).
(F. Valentine Dudensing [1892-1967], New York, New York, USA).
1934, Robert H. Tannahill [1893-1969] (Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, USA);
1970-present, bequest to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
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