Portrait of a Woman

Pablo Picasso (Spanish (worked in France), 1881–1973)


100.6 x 81.3 cm (39 5/8 x 32 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

Saundra B. and William H. Lane Galleries (Gallery 328)





Cubism, the watershed style invented by Picasso and Georges Braque, created a new and ambiguous relationship between three-dimensional form and the flat surface of the canvas. In austere, monochrome paintings, Picasso dissolved the language of pictorial representation into its basic elements of line, light, and shade, creating a subtly shifting grid that animates the entire canvas. The figure merges with the ground, but never entirely vanishes. Such clues as the hair at top left and the long face identify this portrait, while the right angles rising up in the background may represent paintings stacked against the studio wall.


By 1929-30, Earl Horter (b. 1881 - d. 1940), Philadelphia [see note 1]; 1934, sold by Horter to Mrs. Gilbert W. Chapman (Elizabeth Fuller Goodspeed) [see note 2], New York; 1977, sold by Chapman to the MFA. (Accession Date: February 9, 1977)

[1] It is uncertain when Mr. Horter purchased Portrait of a Woman (1910), however the painting was shown hanging in his living room in a photograph dated to 1929-30 and reproduced in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s catalogue for the exhibition: “Mad for Modernism: Earl Horter and his Collection" (1934).
[2] The MFA curatorial files contain a signed and dated declaration by Mrs. Chapman attesting to the date of purchase from Mr. Horter as 1934.

Credit Line

Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund and Partial gift of Mrs. Gilbert W. Chapman


© 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.