The Top 10 Things to Know About Picasso’s Love Life


Behind every great artist is a muse–and legendary painter Pablo Picasso, well, he had plenty of them. Simply put, the artist’s sexual appetite was irrepressible. Over the course of his life, he had two wives, six mistresses, and dozens, if not hundreds, of lovers, many of who served as the inspiration for the artist’s exceptionally prolific body of work. From his first tumultuous marriage to the many illicit affairs that followed, here are the top ten things to know about Picasso’s love life and the muses behind his masterpieces.

1. He’s a heart breaker—literally.
Picasso’s love (or lack thereof) led one mistress, one wife, one son, and one grandson to suicidal deaths.

2. His love for women started at a young age.
Picasso began visiting brothels with his father in southern Spain at the age of 13, and his sexual appetite remained insatiable. He was married twice, had six significant mistresses, and hundreds of affairs over the course of his life.

3. He liked his women short.
The artist had two firm requirements for his women; they must be submissive and shorter than the artist (Picasso was only 5 feet, 4 inches).

4. He’s the father of four children.
Picasso had four children; eldest son Paulo with his first wife Olga Khokhlova, daughter Maya with mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter, and son and daughter, Claude and Paloma, with mistress Françoise Gilot.

5. In 1935, he left his first wife, Olga, for his pregnant mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter. Picasso refused to divorce Olga to prevent her from receiving half of his wealth, and subsequently, Olga drank herself to death in 1955, still unhappily married to Picasso.

6. Picasso did not marry again until he was 79.
His second marriage was to his 35 year old mistress Jacqueline Roque, and the artist remained married to Jacqueline until his death in 1973. Thirteen years later, Jacqueline shot herself, unable to continue life without Picasso.

7. He is said to have been left by only one woman.
Françoise Gilot, the mother of Picasso’s two youngest children, was a 23 year old art student when she began her affair with the 62 year old artist. She was with Picasso for ten years before she left him because of his cheating and abusiveness, and is said to be the only woman to ever have left Picasso.

8. Françoise Gilot published a “tell all” book about her relationship with the artist.
As a result of the book, Picasso refused to speak with the couple’s two children, Claude and Paloma, for the remainder of his life.

9. Picasso voraciously painted his lovers, and many of his most iconic works feature his wives and mistresses.
One of his most renowned cubist paintings, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, underwent a repainting after Picasso temporarily split from Fernande Oliver in the summer of 1907. The artist repainted the two heads on the far right of the artwork to reflect his sentiments regarding women at the time of his breakup.

10. Picasso’s most expensive portrait sold-to-date, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, features Marie-Thérèse Walter
Inspired by a bondage photograph taken by Picasso’s friend Man Ray, the piece sold for a record breaking $106.5 million dollars in 2010.

Featured Image: René Burri, Pablo Picasso, Villa La Californie, Cannes, France, 1957, Source: Phaidon