Maya Widmaier-Picasso has kindly confirmed the authenticity of this work.
In the spring of 1954, in Vallauris, Picasso met Sylvette David (fig. 1), the young fiancée of an English chair designer holidaying on the coast. The artist was soon obsessed with the girl's long neck and classical face, and in two months, between April and June, he made more than thirty drawings and paintings of her. This renowned series is characterised by Sylvette's trademark profile, with her thick blond hair pulled up in an attractive pony tail.
The present portrait of Martine Peloux, executed four years later, has the same immediacy and freshness as the purest depictions of Sylvette. Martine is younger, more naive, less daring in her gaze than Sylvette: an adolescent, whose still childish, but perfect, profile, contrasting with the seduction of her rebellious hair falling disorderly on her shoulders certainly fascinated Picasso. The artist played subtly on this contrast between the child and the woman, focussing, on the one side, on her childish blouse, chastely buttoned up, or the innocent Alice-band framing her hair; whilst, on the other side, indulging in her lips and wild curls. The result is one of the artist's most direct homages to female youth, captured with the spontaneity of the pencil drawing.