The treasures she left behind her last year, including 10 paintings, 40 drawings (three of the Blue Period), jewels created by Picasso, books, letters, dozens of paper sculptures produced with cuttings or cigarette burns as well as two pebbles, which he engraved, and photographs, have been envied by collectors, art historians, dealers and biographers. These were inherited by two indirect heirs who were found by genealogists.
Dora Maar, who was born in Tours, Western France, on December 22nd 1907, was notably famous as a photographer before she met Picasso and made herself better known in the world with her photographs of the successive stages of the completion of "Guernica" that Picasso painted in his workshop of the rue des Grands Augustins. She also took to painting after having taken his advice but in fact her celebrity was established through the numerous photographic portraits of Picasso she produced.
Picasso met her in January 1936 at the terrace of the café "Les Deux Magots" in Saint-Germain- des Prés. Attracted by her black eyes and jet-black hair, he invested his friend, the famous poet Eluard, to introduce him to this beautiful woman.
Dora Maar, born to a Yugoslav father and of a mother originating from the Touraine region, had been raised in Argentina. She answered him in Spanish and as a result Picasso was even more fascinated. Their relationship was cemented a few weeks later when Picasso invited her in his flat of the rue de la Boetie in March 1936 and its duration (nearly nine years) coincided with the dark period spanning the years of the war of Spain and the Second World war.
Dora Maar, who kept religiously a drawing representing her with a red scarf opening the door of a studio where the painter was waiting for her in the attires of Jupiter, thus became the rival of the blonde Marie-Thérèse Walter who had given a daughter named Maya to Picasso.Contrary to the other women whom he had known, she was an artist who had a certain independence of mind but she eventually came to suffer from this relationship after she discovered she was sterile. Picasso, who was then aged 50, was charmed by this beautiful dark-haired girl and produced during their relationship of many sketches, watercolours and paintings which testify today of their moments of happiness.
Dora Maar jealously kept them until its death in 1997 and thus, despite facing some harsh difficulties during many years.
In her mind, these souvenirs helped her preserve the cult of an impassioned and extraordinary love affair which made her famous forever. She had however to yield to Picasso's whims as he had not given up Marie-Thérèse Walter. He went thus from one to another according to events and his mood. She was the "Woman in tears" in many aspects, a painting he produced after «Guernica» which was to become the symbol of the suffering of the Spanish people and also the woman who shared the rather painful existence of Picasso during the troubled period of the years 1936-1944. In Paris, still occupied by the Germans, he left her as a good-bye gift in April 1944 a drawing of 1915 representing Max Jacob his close friend who had just died in the transit camp of Drancy fater his arrest by the Nazis.
During this long love affair, Picasso offered Dora many drawings, books, jewels which he designed, paintings watercolours and papers cut out, torn or burned with cigarettes.
Now, one would wonder what was the exact role of Dora Maar in her relationship with the painter especially as she never disclosed her secrets after their separation. One could easily imagine that she was subjected to him while burying deep into her mind any feeling of rebellion, that she let herself trapped into some kind of masochism to meet the desires of the Master who was satisfied to be her god. But deep down into her heart, she probably knew that she was laying down her life to glory, benefiting from the advantage of being the muse of the artist and the other side losing her illusions regarding the possibility of keeping him forever near her. This attitude could only cause sparks which ended up short-circuiting this long relationship. She did not fail to be struck down, even if she managed to preserve her dignity, while Picasso, unmoved, carried on his career without being concerned about the fate of those women who had shared his life before.
Eventually, she represented for him a stage or at best a temporary accomplice who offered him the opportunity to produce new masterpieces and notably to paint her as a female surrendering to the Minotaur, much resigned about her fate while being seduced by the beast her glance fixedly posed towards the sky, like the expiatory victim of a monster showing a disproportionate appetite as was Picasso the ogre.
He devoured her as he had done of Olga, Marie-Thérèse and so many other women and she sacrificed herself in exchange of a share of his celebrity. Through such submission, the photographer of talent she did not hesitate to sway from the role of voyeuse to that of the film which fixes moments of happiness and of despair as well to that of developer which is used to reveal them.
She accepted probably her fate with regret and no one could say how she behaved in bed with Picasso. Was she a woman-object, femme fatale, woman-woman or did she simply play lucidly some kind of a comedy? She certainly was for Picasso his fuel during all these years and one would therefore believe that as such she was consumed because there was no other alternative.
In any case, no woman would have been able to transform such a 60-year-old giant who was trapped in his old habits, so utterly selfish and so terribly prone to conceit with so many flattering courtesans licking his feet. Dora, who disappeared almost 25 years after Picasso, kept her secrets until the last day of her life which resembled in some way that of Camille Claudel who madly loved Rodin. the only difference is that she lived a lonely existence and did not end up in a lunatic asylum.
What remains are these extraordinary souvenirs and these poignant photographs showing them together as if they were reunited forever. Adrian Darmon