Gouel, Eva (d. 1915)

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Gouel, Eva (d. 1915)

Mistress of Pablo Picasso. Name variations: Eve Gouel; Marcelle Humbert. Died in 1915 in Paris.

The French mistress of a sculptor named Marcoussis and a friend of Pablo Picasso's mistress Fernande Olivier , Eva Gouel went by the name Marcelle Humbert when she first took up with Picasso in 1911, just as his affair with Olivier was coming to an end. Described by Norman Mailer in Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man, as "small, sweet, superficially submissive, orderly, thrifty and devoted to Picasso," Gouel ushered in a relatively tranquil period in the artist's life, and she seems to have been one of the few of his mistresses to have escaped his notorious temper. "To look at him, you would think he would be violent, but he is really like a lamb," she used to say. The couple had four years together before Gouel died of cancer in 1915.

Gouel was an orderly housekeeper, keeping the pillows plumped and the furniture polished, and even introducing a tea table and a flowered tea set into Picasso's studio, which was evidently off limits to her cleaning expeditions. She also had a keen eye for business, and was able to tell at a glance which patrons were ready to buy paintings and which were just there for a look. According to Mailer, she encouraged Picasso as he moved into Synthetic Cubism and urged him to bring color back into his palette. During the time she was with him, his paintings fetched better and better prices every year.

Gouel hid the nature of her illness from Picasso as long as possible, although, as Mailer points out, a cruel portrait the artist made of her in the winter of 1913–14, Woman in a Chemise, may have anticipated her illness. She was hospitalized in the fall of 1915, during which time Picasso made a long trip each day to visit her, and consoled himself at night with Gaby Lespinasse, his beautiful Parisian neighbor.


Mailer, Norman. Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man. NY: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1995.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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Gouel, Eva (d. 1915)

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