|Courtesy of www.PabloPicasso.org|
As frequently happens where Picasso is concerned, the undertaking of the color is to heighten the drawing by focusing on the differentiation between substance, dress and hair. It doesn't create a deception nor propose a nonexistent space; it performs the essential capacity of what Leger called "enlivening surfaces."
Not long after his break with Francoise Gilot, Picasso painted a progression of eighteen pictures of Sylvette, a fair-haired young girl of the sort one saw around Saint-Germain-des-Pres twenty years back. At Vallauris everybody called her "the English young lady" and as a model she was dangerously pretty. Since art has no worse enemy than prettiness, Picasso did not shrink, in some pictures of the series, from covering the entire face with one sweeping stroke of the brush.
The portrait of Sylvette here is one of those that make the best concessions to "charm." It shows a couple of memories of Cubist structures in the rendering of the dress and still all the more in the blend of front face and profile, which for this situation comes about rather in a double profile. This typical convention of Cubism has been variously interpreted.