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The Cover
January 27, 2010

Portuguese Woman

JAMA. 2010;303(4):303. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1925

Serving as a hat, plates, platters, a rug, and the background, Robert Delaunay's (1885-1941) signature discs litter the canvas of Portuguese Woman (cover ). References to the sun and its light occur throughout Delaunay's works, regardless of their subject or their chronological place in the Delaunay oeuvre. Delaunay executed this painting, also known as Tall Portuguese Woman, along with several still lifes and other scenes of Iberian living, during the dark days of the Great War. Accompanied by his artist-wife Sonia Terk, and their son Charles, Delaunay was vacationing in Spain when war broke out in his native France. Portugal soon beckoned, and there the Delaunays rented a villa with their artist friends Eduardo Vianna and Sam Halpert. The slow pace of life, relatively untouched by the savage violence of the trenches, appealed to the sensitive painter. Although the discs in Portuguese Woman scream that this work issued from Delaunay's brush, Robert's real genius is revealed in the magic of vivid, bright, almost animate color: the Portuguese scenes became the perfect medium for development of the true Delaunay style. A prolific writer and self-commentator on his life, works, and theories, Robert wrote that the concept of “simultaneism in colour creates a total formal construction, an aesthetic of all the crafts.” This view of simultané entangled the Delaunays—Sonia as well as her husband—with the Italian Futurists, an outspoken group of avant-garde artists, and separated them from the early, or analytical, Cubists.