Woman Ironing is a 1904 oil painting by the renowned artist, Pablo Picasso, which he created during his Blue Period. This artwork depicts a woman who seems emaciated with hollow eyes and sunken cheeks as she presses down on an iron with all of her might. Laundresses were popular subjects for artists at the turn of the century, including Honore Daumier and Edgar Degas. The painting’s subject represents the struggle of poverty that was prevalent in Picasso’s era.
Interestingly enough, Woman Ironing has a hidden story beneath its surface layer. In 1989, an x-ray study revealed another portrait of a man camouflaged beneath this painting’s overt image. There are many speculations regarding this concealed portrait and its significance to the artwork as it is not known whether it is just another random sketch or what it represents.
Woman Ironing showcases Picasso’s signature blue hue that conveys feelings of sadness and melancholy through color tones. Furthermore, in contrast to The Weeping Woman by Picasso where the texture is implied and tactile despite not being visible, Woman Ironing paintings emphasize materiality from starchy clothes down to wrinkled fabrics with Picassos’s mastery brushwork.
Overall, Woman Ironing is part of Picasso’s series that focuses on women working in laundries – starting from Edgar Degas’ A Woman Ironing in 1873 – presenting humanity at its most vulnerable while challenging traditional beauty standards in art making for personal transformations such as moving towards Cubism after his Blue Period has ended.