Picasso’s Seven Lovers and Muse

Picasso's Seven Lovers and MuseFernande, Eva, Olga, Marie-Therese, Dora, Francoise, Jacqueline. These were the women who shaped the life and art of Pablo Picasso.

Fernande Olivier was Picasso’s first love. Her presence showed a significant change in his female nude art. He was a jealous lover and often kept Fernande locked up when he went out alone.

Picasso left Fernande nine years later for another woman Eva Gouel. The affair with Eva, however, did not last long and shortly after their break up she died from tuberculosis. Eva was the first lover to never get over Picasso living in sadness until her death.

Olga Koklova was a Russian ballet dancer who became Picasso’s first wife. Her Russian bourgeois social connections changed Picasso’s life and social work. She gave birth to his son, Paulo and his life with Olga became very demanding. It was after this time that he lost his interest and their marriage fell apart. Picasso’s style became aggressive using colors that expressed his anxiety over Olga who was showing signs of madness. Picasso soon left Olga and she suffered a nervous breakdown with the ending of their marriage. She would stalk him and his mistresses in the following years hoping to regain his interest.

After Olga there was Marie-Therese Walter who played both lover and model for Picasso. It was Therese who gave birth to Picasso’s first daughter, Maya, but never became his wife, though she wanted to be. It would be several years later that Therese would be found with a rope around her neck in the garage of her home, an apparent suicide.

Dora Maar was next with the reputation of a successful photographer and the supposed reason for Picasso taking leave from Marie Therese. Dora became Picasso’s lover for seven years witnessing the step by step creation of the Guernica. Picasso’s use of his lovers in his art is unquestionable, therefore, it isn’t surprising to find Dora Maar’s features in this brilliant masterpiece.

Usually portrayed as a weeping woman by Picasso Dora suffered mental health problems after their break up and is considered the tragic muse of Picasso.

Francoise Gilot was another tragic lover of Picasso. They met when she was only 23 and Picasso was in his mid 60’s, Francoise thought she was entering a world of exciting possibilities in her personal life and artistic career. They stayed together for ten years where she put up with his posturing and unfaithfulness. Francoise had a son and a daughter with Picasso, and after he left her, she appeared to be the only woman to move forward with her life and forget him.

Picasso met his final muse, Jacqueline Roque, while cheating on Francoise. She lived with him becoming not only his lover and muse, but secretary as well. She dedicated herself to Picasso and his work for 20 years until his death in 1973. After he died Jacqueline shot herself, another tragic end to a muse from Picasso’s list.

About the Author

Amitai Sasson of is an art world traveler on a mission to seek out the beauty and passion of the art world. As an avid enthusiast of art and oil paintings, he contributes to as Chief editor and writer.