Early Years - 1940s - 1950s - 1960s - 1970s - 1980s - 1990s - 2000s

1950 - 1959

During the exhibition at the Galerie Louis Leiris, Paris, 1952

Gilot continues to accompany Picasso to the Mourlot Atelier at 43 rue de Chabrol during seasons spent in Paris. She often meets Braque, Chagall, Miro, and occasionally, Matisse, as they were all making lithographs with Fernand Mourlot during this period. During one of her visits, she is persuaded to try her hand at lithography, creating a portrait of their maid, Ines, and becoming the first woman to make lithographs at Mourlot.

In June, Gilot and Picasso stand as witnesses for Paul Eluard and his new wife, Dominique, at their wedding ceremony in St-Tropez.


In August, Gilot’s grandmother, Anne Renoult, dies. Gilot returns to Paris for the funeral and, for the first time since leaving home in October 1943, she meets with her father and they negotiate a cool, but amiable, reconciliation.

Gilot embarks on a another series of paintings – casein on wooden panels -- inspired by the more anti-poetic aspects of modern or traditional kitchens and composed of familiar objects of her domestic world at Vallauris all held in ironic tension. However, the coldness of the palette and the sharp symbolic images reveal an underlying somberness and tension.

The character of Françoise’s relationship with Pablo begins to become unbearable and confining – his temper often explosive, his demeanor distant – and Gilot retreats into herself becoming even more involved with her work and the care of her children.


March 31: Vernissage for Gilot’s first one-woman exhibition, organized by D.H.Kahnweiler at Galerie Louise Leiris at 29 rue d’Astorg. Consisting primarily of paintings and drawings from her “White Period” and the “Kitchen Series”, the reviews of the exhibition by Claude Roy, Georges Besson and Georges Limbourg are quite positive. A painting is purchased for the French Musees Nationaux. Picasso does not attend the opening, claiming he has already seen all the paintings and does not want to draw any attention away from Gilot.

Gilot receives subsidiary contracts with the Curt Valentin Gallery in New York and the Leicester Gallery, in London.

With this encouragement, the size and scope of Gilot’s paintings begin to augment and her color schemes and subject matter turn more ambitious. Paradoxically, at the same time, she is emotionally distancing herself from Picasso.

Gilot completes a number of drawings illustrating her costume designs for La Frange des Mots (At the Edge of Words), a dance performance choreographed by Marguerite Bougai at La Maison de la Chimie, in Paris.

In homage, Gilot completes a monumental work entitled, The Painters (1953), portraying herself and Picasso, together with the painters Pignon and Gastaud, in a sophisticated composition of horizontal and vertical sections, complementary contrasts, and emotionally charged arrangements, all focusing on Picasso’s drawing of Françoise as the dove of peace, which Gilot recreates within the painting.

In the fall, Madame Ramie invites her cousin, Jacqueline Roque, to come to Vallauris and work as a salesgirl at the Madoura pottery.

From left to right: Pablo Picasso, his son Paulo, Jean Cocteau, Georges Braque and Françoise Gilot, in front of Picasso's studio, Vallauris, 1953

Although they have not seen each other since 1946, images of Genevieve, in a more or less mythicized form, return as subjects of Gilot’s compositions. In concert with her ongoing preoccupation of painting her children at play - together or alone - or in relation to her as their mother, Gilot’s paintings become more saturated and vibrant with color.

In the spring, Gilot travels to Paris to create stage sets and costumes for Jeanine Charrat’s ballet Herakles at the Theatre Champs-Elysees.

However, feeling suffocated by his domineering attitude and his refusal to recognize her need for some autonomy, Gilot realizes that her relationship with Picasso is now irreparably eroded and has run its course.

September 30: Gilot leave Picasso in Vallauris and, together with Claude and Paloma, moves permanently into her Paris apartment at 9 rue Gay-Lussac, on the Left Bank. Picasso follows Gilot and the children to Paris returning to the Midi within two weeks. By the end of October, Jacqueline Roque, the salesgirl at the Madoura Pottery, begins spending time at La Galloise, looking after Picasso.


In the spring, Gilot and Luc Simon meet by chance at the La Hune Bookstore in Paris, shortly after Simon’s return from a sojourn in Madrid. After years of working so near Picasso, a man of vast intelligence but with a titanic nature, Gilot now finds herself in the company of a man who encourages her more poetic nature and her quest for lyricism in her work.


Early in the year, Gilot visits Roland Penrose, and his wife, Lee Miller, at their home in London.

Returning to Paris and feeling that the relationship with Luc Simon is helping to stabilize her life, Gilot marries Luc Simon in a quiet ceremony in Paris. With Claude and Paloma on a month-long holiday in the Alps with Gilot’s mother, the newlyweds leave for a honeymoon in Venice. At the urging of Luc Simon, Gilot paints scenes of Venice, working directly from a terrace at the Gritti Palace Hotel on the edge of the Grand Canal.

Picasso moves from La Galloise, the house Gilot owned and they lived in for many years in Vallauris, to his new villa, La Californie, near Cannes.

Françoise Gilot in her studio with Paloma and Claude, Paris, 1956
In August, just at the end of their honeymoon, Gilot receives word that La Galloise has been completely emptied of its contents. When Gilot reaches Vallauris, she discovers that her book collection has been removed along with all of her drawings and all the paintings and drawings Picasso had given her. Even the letters Matisse had written to her over the years were gone. Only three boxes of papers stored in the attic remained with the beds and a few chairs.

Though Gilot decides to refurnish La Galloise, she returns to Paris, never to see Picasso again.


Gilot receives word that Picasso is pressuring Kahnweiler to drop Gilot from the Galerie Louise Leiris. In the spring, Gilot is not invited to exhibit at the Salon de Mai, in Paris.

In May around the Easter holidays, Gilot and Simon travel for a month in Tunisia. Although she is several months into a difficult pregnancy and is experiencing some discomfort in traveling, the cultural, the colors, the children and the quality of light enchant Gilot.

October 19: Though there are difficulties during the delivery, Gilot gives birth to her third child, Aurelia.

Luc Simon and Françoise Gilot, Tunisia, 1956
In the fall, a few weeks after Aurelia’s birth, Gilot receives a letter from Kahnweiler, terminating her contract with the Galerie Louise Leiris.


In January, Gilot and Rozsda meet again when he arrives in Paris.

Most of the time, Gilot and Simon work in their own studios in Paris. During the summer months, the family spends time in Brittany.

In October, Gilot’s father dies of a heart attack. Although he and Françoise had worked out many of the financial arrangements earlier during their reconciliation in 1951, Gilot must now deal directly with matters relating to her father’s estate and look after her mother in Neuilly.

By the end of the year, in spite of Picasso’s retaliatory influence, Gilot is offered a contract by Galerie Coard on avenue Matignon in Paris.


Feeling that she has now “unified her hand”, Gilot resumes a personal line of inquiry in her work – branding each painting with a style that is unmistakably her own. She completes a number of still-lifes, executed in muted half tones and subtle glazes, along with a series of Parisian landscapes, mostly of the Canal Saint Martin.

Françoise and Luc spend summers and holidays in Brittany. When Claude and Paloma visit their father at his villa in Cannes, Gilot stays at La Galloise.


In March, Gilot has her first exhibition at Galerie Coard, in Paris, showing only her most recent canvases of Parisian landscapes and her children at play, together with a selection of drawings. The response and reviews are good.

Gilot spends the summer months in Vallauris, working at La Galloise – her children’s playful behavior remaining the focus of her paintings.

In September, Gilot travels to England with the Penroses at their country home near the town of Lewis. Gilot completes a number of watercolors during her stay. Since Luc Simon does not speak English, he elects to remain in Paris.

Back at her studios in Paris, Gilot begins a series of canvases inspired by her trip to England - some relating to scenes of the Thames, others of the lighthouse made famous by Virginia Woolf, which she saw near the Penrose’s country home.

With a personal invitation from Fernand Mourlot, Gilot returns to the Mourlot Atelier and creates new lithographs - the first ones of her daughter, Aurelia.

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Early Years - 1940s - 1950s - 1960s - 1970s - 1980s - 1990s - 2000s