Head of a Woman

Artist: Pablo Picasso (Spanish, Malaga 1881–1973 Mougins, France)

Date: 1909

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: H.16 x W.10-1/4 x D.10 in. (40.6 x 26 x 25.4 cm)
27.5 lb. (12.5 kg)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn, 1995

Accession Number: 1996.403.6

Rights and Reproduction: © 2016 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


In 1909, over a ten-month period, Picasso was inspired to create more than sixty Cubist paintings, sculptures, and drawings of women that bear a striking resemblance to his paramour at the time, Fernande Olivier. Although few of these works could be considered traditional "portraits," they do form a unique group within his oeuvre that shows him working with unusually singular focus. This bronze head of Fernande was modeled in autumn 1909 in Paris after the couple returned from a summer trip to Spain (Horta de Ebro), and represents Picasso's first Cubist sculpture. Like his early Cubist paintings, the shape of her sculpted head is faceted into smaller units. Fernande's hair, which she wore up in a rolled do, is here a series of crescent blobs, while her contemplative face is more sharply chiseled into flat planes. Intended to be seen in the round, the composition changes form when viewed from different angles, and the head's slight tilt and the neck's sweeping curves give the allusion of movement as if she were about to look over her shoulder.