The painter Françoise Gilot, who was also the artist Pablo Picasso’s partner and muse for years, is dead. Gilot died at the age of 101, US media reported unanimously, citing her daughter Aurelia Engel. Gilot had long suffered from heart and lung problems and died in a Manhattan hospital, it said.

Born in 1921 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a middle-class suburb west of Paris, Gilot set up a studio with her grandmother as a young woman and organized her first exhibitions. Her mother was a watercolor painter, her father a successful and authoritarian businessman who actually wanted his daughter to study law.

She left the Picasso

In 1943 Gilot met Picasso, who was around 40 years his senior. The first three years with Picasso were the best, because they only saw each other twice a month, the painter once told the weekly newspaper “Paris Match”. The couple had children Claude and Paloma. But Picasso was always more decisive, dominant and moody, made life difficult for those around him and wanted to limit them, Gilot later described.

Gilot left Picasso in 1953 – she is considered the only woman who has ever left the art giant of the 20th century. “Do you think people will be interested in you?” Picasso then asked her. “They will never be, only because of you.”

Leaving Picasso was tantamount to an insult to majesty, said Gilot’s literary scholar and biographer, Annie Maïllis, who co-directed the documentary “Pablo Picasso

Best Seller: “Life with Picasso”

Gilot later had a brief marriage to the painter Luc Simon, who had a daughter, Aurelia. She then moved to New York and in 1970 married Jonas Salk, the discoverer of the polio vaccine against polio, with whom she remained together until his death in 1995.

In the 1960s, Gilot wrote the book “Life with Picasso” about her relationship with Picasso. Picasso is said to have raged because, despite numerous efforts, he could not have it banned. The work became a bestseller, accompanied by a legal war – which also led to numerous galleries, allegedly under pressure from Picasso, taking his side, which damaged Gilot’s artistic career.

But the painter worked until the end of her life – and finally managed to find recognition in the art world. In recent years there have been several exhibitions of her work and expensive sales of individual pieces. For her 100th birthday, the US media even celebrated her as the “It Girl”. But Gilot was always modest. “I’m not going to make a big deal out of it and make myself more than I am,” she told the New York Times last year. “Or to less.”