Picasso first met the beautiful Jacqueline Roque in the summer of 1952 at the Madoura ceramic studios in the south of France. He saw more and more of this striking woman for the next two years, and in early 1954, Picasso ended his relationship with Franoise Gilot to begin his new life with Jacqueline.
"As always when the mistress of the house changed, everything else in the artist's life changed: not just the house but the poet laureate, the circle of friends, the dog and last but not least, the style... The only trouble was that increased fame meant that the house was often under a state of seige. Fortunately Jacqueline provided rock-like security and support" (J. Richardson, "L'epoque Jacqueline," in exh, cat., Late Picasso, The Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 19).
Painted on 11 June 1954, the present work is one of a series of profile portraits Picasso painted of Jacqueline. It was created just after his completion of the series of bust-length portraits of Sylvette, many of which are similarly in profile. It is here that Jacqueline makes her first appearance in Picasso's work. Distilled to her simplest forms, Jacqueline's slender and graceful neck, the smooth planes of her face and hair and her sphinx-like pose re-appear throughout Picasso's paintings of the 1950s and 1960s.
Maya Widmaier-Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this painting.