Dora Maar  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Henriette Theodora Markovitch alias Dora Maar (November 22 1907July 16 1997) was a French photographer and painter of Croatian descent, best known for being a lover and muse of Pablo Picasso.

She was born in Tours, Western France, on November 22, 1907. She died 89 years of age in Paris on July 16, 1997. Her father was Croatian, her mother was born in Tourraine, France. Dora grew up in Argentina.

She was famous as a photographer, and also was a painter herself, before she met Picasso. She 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 on the rue des Grands Augustins, and other photos of Picasso. Together she and Picasso studied printing with Man Ray.

Picasso met her in January 1936 (when she was 29 years old), at the terrace of the Café Les Deux Magots in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris. The famous poet Paul Éluard, who accompanied him, had to introduce him to this beautiful, sad woman. He was attracted by her beauty and self-mutilation (cutting her fingers and the table - he got her bloody gloves and exhibited them on a shelf in his apartment). She spoke Spanish fluently, so Picasso was even more fascinated. Their relationship lasted nearly nine years.

Dora Maar became the rival of blonde Marie-Thérèse Walter who had given a daughter named Maya to Picasso. Picasso often painted beautiful sad Dora (she suffered because she was sterile) and called her his "private muse."

Dora Maar kept his paintings for herself until her death in 1997. They were souvenirs for their extraordinary love affair which made her famous forever. For him she was the "woman in tears" in many aspects. She suffered from his moods during their love affair. Also she hated the idea that in 1943 he had found a new lover, Françoise Gilot. Picasso and Paul Éluard sent Dora to their friend, the psychiatrist Jacques Lacan, who treated her with psychoanalysis. In Paris, still occupied by the Germans, Picasso left to her a drawing of 1915 as a good-bye gift in April 1944; it represents Max Jacob his close friend who had just died in the transit camp of Drancy after his arrest by the Nazis. He also left to her some still lifes and a house at Ménerbes in Provence.

On May 3, 2006, one of Picasso's portraits of her, Dora Maar au Chat (Dora Maar with Cat) was auctioned at Sotheby's at a closing price of US$95,216,000, making it the world's second most expensive painting ever sold at auction [1]. The winning bidder chose to remain anonymous.

The picture, Dora Maar, is currently registered with the FBI's National Stolen Art File[2]. FBI reports that the picture was stolen from a Saudi yacht in Antibes between March 7-11, 1999, which also unearths the identity of the anonymous bidder, who obviously was a Saudi royal Picasso aficionado.

See also


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