An Interpretation of Girl Before a Mirror, a Painting by Pablo Picasso

We look into the mirror and it’s not the reflection we see, but what we think we see I admit throughout my life, I’ve constantly struggled with my appearance. Every time I stepped in front of any reflective surface, it always came back to the one aspect that made me cringe For a long time no one gave me a reason to think otherwise 7 then one particular image in a textbook made me stop and realize that these things are only temporary, Pablo Picasso relates the insecurities of young and old people today in his 1932 painting Girl Before a Mirror.

The more I examined the simplicity of its form; the complexity of the analysis intrigued me more It forced my mind to think about my own situations and allowed me to become part of the art pieces The emotional appeal is relatable and raw to many people who conceal their ‘true self’ to live without the trouble of other’s opinions.

This unhappiness with one’s self is apparent in this painting of a woman who appears to foresee the inescapable future that awaits her.

Girl Before a Mirror emphasizes the vanity and futility within ones physical appearance that everybody will continue to age as life goes on regardless of the unseen. One of the primary ways in which Picasso illustrates dread is through the angle at which he depicts both versions of the woman and of what is seen in the mirror. The figure peers into the mirror, as what the title implies, to only notice her flaws and she can’t but help “the way she perceives herself” (Felsenstein).

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It is clear that the woman and the mirror are our main focus as they are placed front and center with little distraction of other objects, Also notice that both perspectives, showing a side view and anterior View, were intended for people to unconsciously make the comparisons by directing viewers to recognize the slight differences, The figure is leaning on the mirror with both arms against it, something I would do if I were nervous or upsets.

The gripping towards the mirror suggests this person is probably not content her appearance, questioning on “what is going to happen to her” (Katja). She reaches out to the reflection, as if trying to unite her different parts to embrace yet another element she didn’t know she had, The decision to emphasize self-pity of the figure is very subtle in the positioning of how it is seen, but significant in showing us what the woman may be feeling, Picasso‘s bold style creates an assumption that the woman in the painting is concerned with her own inner self, her fragmentation, and her mysteries; it relates to the control of how every woman perceives them self. In this painting he wanted to show that perception changes everything over what is pleasing in another‘s eyes: he demonstrated this along with many of his other paintings with “his beautiful mistress Marie-Therese Walter” (MOMA). He paints Girl Before a Mirror with such minimalism that we recognize it is a woman only because we associate two circles for the breast and a large round stomach indicating she may be pregnant.

Then again, the counterpan on the right has sudden changes to the body with lines that are turned downwards It gives people the assumption that her skin is no longer tight and resilient, but sagging and will continue to droop as she grows older into adulthood. This is further emphasized by the pitch black ‘dividing line’ in the face suggesting that even though there is only one woman, there are inherent changes within both versions that takes place or would have to take place sometime in her future The choice of placing curvy strokes on the figure and mirror in the foreground contrast to the straight diamond—pattern behind reiterates that this is a symbolic piece- that Pablo purposely wanted to make the focal point stick out. Picasso is well known for abstractions in his paintings, but he doesn’t paint them forjust the enjoyment of capturing things as they are seen; he provides a hidden message within this piece with limited complexity to give viewers the experience of placing yourself in the subject matter‘s shoes.

This artist makes use of a diverse color scheme in addition to style and angle, in order to exemplify the involuntary power of growth from young to old. The contrasting colors suggest “two or more viewpoints and psychological states of the same individual” (El Camino) Warm — such as orange, yellow, peach, red – and cool – blue, purple, green, black – colors are used to indicate the transformation of her present appearance to an older, more ghostly self The figure on the left appears to show that it is day time with bright hues, dolled up and rendered in a smooth peachy-pink, however it merges with a roughly painted yellow face, red lipstick, and green eye-shadow, It‘s as if she does this to make up for her low self—esteem, but at the same time recognizes she will not be flawless forever, On the opposite end – her soul, her future, her fate – is visualized with darker hues of purple, blue, black, and red. Her face is darkened with a textured shade of purple, her eyes round and hollow without blacks for pupils, but surrounding, and the blush portrayed as an orange teardrop.

This rearrangement makes the reflection look skeleton»like and old, and fearsome for an image of a human The mirrors as well as parts engulfing her face are formed by black outlines all around, not quite obvious on the figure to the left. According to Color Wheel Pro, the color of black usually is referred to “death“ (Color Wheel Pro), The black outlining both the mirror and inside reflection suggest a time of death that frames the image of the self in the coming years. Even the yellow and black of her make»up placed together is typically referred as a sign of caution or a warning The disparity of color schemes hint at the sense of an ongoing struggle within, especially from adolescence to adulthood Critics in different periods have offered their assessments of Girl Before a Mirror with a wide range of emotions Yet it constantly comes back to the message that there are things we see, and things we foresee, We born, we live, we pass, Due to the pressure from others to fit in with the rest of society, as we grow, the more flaws we dwell on and try to fix.

The difference of color and style helps to see this repeating theme. As told by journalist, Sara Felsenstein, the vanity, what we perceive as flaws vs, growth delves deep into our “human psyche and sheds a little light onto the dark corners of our minds” (Felsenstein). Marie-Therese Walter is often painted as youthful and bright yet this painting reveals something new and haunting. It seems as though he‘d illustrated what Walter felt and captured them on canvas because four years after Pablo’s death, she committed suicide Pablo Picasso has successfully captured the essence of how we see the things that not many other people notice; yet we still feel the urge to cover the problem up even though we know we can’t stop our inescapable future He is truly an amazing artist who creates powerful statements through such simple creations.


  1. “Color Meaningt” Color Wheel Pro, QSX Software Group, n.dt Web 20 April 2013 http://www,color—wheel-pro.con’t/color-meaninghtml

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An Interpretation of Girl Before a Mirror, a Painting by Pablo Picasso. (2022, Jul 26). Retrieved from

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