Conceived in Paris in 1906-1907, Tête de femme reveals Picasso's preoccupation with radical simplifications of surface and form as well as demonstrating how, at this time, he "showed an increasing disregard for the imitation of natural appearances. The human form underwent an analysis which resulted in a geometric reorganisation. Picasso's aim was to recapture the powerful emotional appeal of primitive sculpture" (Picasso, Sculpture, Ceramics, Graphic Work, ex. cat., London, Tate Gallery, 1967, p. 29). The angularity and simplicity of Tête de femme, as well as her almond shaped eyes and slightly convex eyeballs already reminiscent of Les demoiselles d'Avignon, owe more to Iberian sculpture, an exhibition of which was shown at the Louvre in the Spring of 1906, than to African, which Picasso claimed not to have encountered until the latter part of 1907. This simplification in three dimensions, together with an increasing autonomy of individual elements within the sculptural whole, found its natural course in Picasso's ground-breaking cubist experiments over the following years and, sculpturally, culminated in 1909 in Picasso's one true cubist sculpture, also entitled Tête de femme.
In discussing the present sculpture from 1906-1907, Werner Spies has written, "This mask-like work represents the sculptural result of the radical transformation taking place in the artist's painted and graphic oeuvre--the shift from a portrait-like conception of the head to maximum stylization--and underlines the interest in physiognomic abbreviation that had begun in Gosol...The surface of the quiet, perfectly symmetrical bronze is polished; the sculpture is withdrawn from the articulating intervention of light which, rather than playing irregularly over the metal surface, produces planar reflections. Kahnweiler views this rejection of Impressionist surface texture as the first step towards a "truly cubic sculpture, a sculpture intended to create solids in space, solids with their own existence"...In Head of a Woman for the first time, Picasso establishes a balance in his sculpture between the dependence on traditional patterns and the interest in autonomous, compositionally abstract means of design" (W. Spies and C. Piot, op. cit., pp. 35-38).