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Eva Gouel – Picasso’s Early Lover

Madame Picasso is a wonderful art historical fiction book about Picasso and his relationship with Eva Gouel. Not only does the story capture the relationship and love story between the unlikely two, the book also transports the reader into 20th century Paris during the tail end of the Belle Epoque era.

The Exciting Bohemian Life of Paris

Madame Picasso immerses you into the bohemian world of the artists, poets, writers and intellectuals. Names such as Henri Matisse, Sarah Burnhardt, and Gertrude Stein are all part of the artistic scene. We get a glimpse into the glam and glitter of Montmartre’s famous cabaret – the Moulin Rouge and the the intellectual salons of  Gertrude Stein.

It is a time when the emerging post-impressionism artists of the 20th century are experimenting and struggling with new artistic ideas, unaware that they are paving the way to modern art.

Paris is buzzing with creativity and life! The non-conforming artists are bending the rules of the art world and pushing for change…   

All this is the background to Eva Gouel and Picasso’s love story.

What is there not to love!!

The Early Days in Picasso’s Artistic Career

In the beginning of this novel, Picasso is at the early stage of his artistic career. He is on the rise and hangs out in trendy Parisian cafes and social venues with his artistic friends.  He is in a long term relationship with Fernande.  Although together for five years, Picasso isn’t really happy with her but is reluctant to leave.

Eva Gouel – Picasso’s lover

Eva Gouel’s Love Affair with Pablo Picasso

The novel recounts five years in the life of Eva Gouel (born as Marcelle Humbert). She was the daughter of conservative Polish immigrants. Eva had different dreams to her parents. They only wanted their daughter to marry early. However, Eva shocked them by running away to Montmartre to be part of the vibrant art scene. She found work at the glitzy and very famous Moulin Rouge cabaret as a seamstress. It was here where she encountered Pablo Picasso for the very first time.

The Intense & Complex Relationship

Eva, although unassuming, quickly captivates the heart of the Spanish artist. Eventually both of them break away from their respective partners in order to be together. Their love affair is intense but not smooth sailing. Eva Gouel adores Picasso and is totally devoted to him. However, being with Picasso was a challenge. Eva continually doubted Picasso’s love and sincerity. She also felt inadequate and insecure around his intellectual and artistic friends.  

It is a well known fact that Picasso was a womanizer. He had many affairs and marriages. But Eval Gouel captivated his heart and was the love of his life. Picasso loved Eva so much that he wrote hidden messages to her in his paintings.

In this novel, the author claims that they had planned to marry, but you will need to read the novel to find out why this didn’t happen. In later interviews, way long after his period with Eva, Picasso always felt emotional when he spoke of her.

Eva Gouel
Eva Gouel – One of Picasso’s greatest loves

Picasso and his Women

Pablo Picasso is arguably one of the greatest artists ever. He is not only famous for his different art styles but also for the many women in his life! Art historians have studied his art for decades. They all agree that the various women in his life greatly influenced Picasso’s artworks.

Madame Picasso places the spotlight on Eva Gouel. Although Eva Gouel wasn’t the first or last Madame Picasso, she was a significant figure in Picasso’s art and life.

This book is a beauty! Enjoy!

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See my recommendations below for more wonderful art historical fiction books about the French impressionists and post-impressionists: