Richard Riss has confirmed the authenticity of this painting.
With the outbreak of the First World War, Delaunay moved to Portugal with his wife, Sonia; first residing in Vila do Count, and then in Valençia do Minho, where they remained until 1918. This temporary exodus from Paris, where Delaunay himself had been at the forefront of the Orphism movement and found incredible stimulus from the artistic epicenter of Europe, was a period of calm and renewal for both artists. In Portugal he continued to paint actively, experimenting in wax and with the playful juxtaposition of color and nuanced, distorted forms. Inspired by the simple life of his adopted country and bathed in the brilliant sun of his new surroundings, he described the "violent contrasts of colored marks, women's clothing, striking shawls of delicious, metallic greens, watermelons. Forms and colors: women disappearing in mountains of pumpkins, vegetables, enchanting markets" (quoted in P. Francastel, Robert Delaunay, Du cubisme à l'art abstrait, Paris, 1957, p. 127).
The present work is closely related to the major wax painting of the same title at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, which portrays the same figure, wearing her distinctive flowered shawl, bent in concentration and balancing two enormous abstracted pumpkins between her hands. The Portugaises are of great importance in that they serve to underline the artist's progression towards an art in which color and design are on equal footing in the conception of the work as a whole, anticipating his later and purely abstract Rythmes series.
(fig. 1) Robert Delaunay, La grand portugaise, 1916, wax on canvas, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.