Pablo Picasso, Fernande with a Black Mantilla (Fernande à la mantille noire), Paris, 1905–06. Oil on canvas, 39 3/8 × 31 7/8 inches (100 × 81 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Thannhauser Collection, Bequest, Hilde Thannhauser 91.3914 © 2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
[Picasso’s] Fernande with a Black Mantilla is a transitional work. Still somewhat expressionistic and romantic, with its subdued tonality and lively brushstrokes, the picture depicts his mistress Fernande Olivier wearing a mantilla, which perhaps symbolizes the artist’s Spanish origins. The iconic stylization of her face and its abbreviated features, however, foretell Picasso’s increasing interest in the abstract qualities and solidity of Iberian sculpture, which would profoundly influence his subsequent works. Though naturalistically delineated, the painting presages his imminent experiments with abstraction.