Acclaimed French artist Francoise Gilot, once Picasso's mistress, has died at age 101

June 7, 2023
Ben Marquis

An acclaimed artist in her own right who was nonetheless always mostly known for her relationship with a more famous artist has passed away after a long and fruitful life.

French-born Francoise Gilot, who was involved in a tumultuous 10-year relationship with famed painter Pablo Picasso, died on Tuesday at the age of 101, the Associated Press reported.

According to her daughter, Aurelia Engel, Gilot died at the Mount Sinai West Hospital in New York City due to heart and lung problems. Engel said, "She was an extremely talented artist, and we will be working on her legacy and the incredible paintings and works she is leaving us with."

Her relationships with Picasso and others

France's AFP reported that one of Gilot's several claims to fame was that she was the only one of several women romantically involved with Spanish artist Picasso to leave him of her own accord.

Indeed, Picasso's first wife, a Russian dancer named Olga Khokhlova to whom he was still married when he met Gilot, suffered severe depression after he separated from her, while another artist named Dora Maar, who was also dating at the time he met Gilot, later suffered a nervous breakdown after Picasso moved on.

There was also a teenage girl Picasso dated named Marie-Therese Walter who later hung herself, as well as his second wife Jacqueline Roque, who later shot herself.

"He never saw it coming," Engel told the AP of her mother’s decision to leave Picasso following years of mental and physical abuse. "She was there because she loved him and because she really believed in that incredible passion of art which they both shared. (But) she came as a free, though very, very young, but very independent person."

Per AFP, during the decade Gilot was involved with Picasso from 1943-1953, she bore him two children, a son in 1947 named Claude and a daughter in 1949 named Paloma.

Gilot married fellow artist Luc Simon in 1955, with whom she bore daughter Aurelia, but was then divorced in 1962, only to then go on and marry famed virologist Jonas Salk, the inventor of the polio vaccine, and remained with him until his death in 1995, according to the AP.

She chose art over law

According to The Washington Post, Gilot was born in 1921 in a small town outside Paris to a relatively wealthy family and pursued an interest in art as a child even as her father urged her to become a lawyer. She dropped out of law school after the Nazis invaded France in 1940 and instead enrolled in art school, during which she met Picasso at a Paris cafe in 1943.

More than a decade after she left the famed but troubled artist, Gilot published a memoir titled "Life With Picasso" that detailed the ups and downs of their relationship and actually resulted in his filing three failed lawsuits to try and block the book from being sold.

He also attempted to sabotage her art career, have her blacklisted by the art world, and even disowned their two children, though Gilot was able to successfully sue for their rightful portion of his estate after he died in 1973.

Renowed artist featured in numerous prestigious museums

The Post noted that Gilot, who continued painting up until her mid-90s, saw her work featured in places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and Centre Pompidou in Paris, and also wrote several books and collections of poetry.

Arguably her final and greatest achievement, however, was the 2021 sale at Sotheby's in London of a 1965 portrait of her oldest daughter titled "Paloma a la Guitare" that was purchased for $1.3 million, per the AFP.

Latest News

© 2023 - Patriot News Alerts