Muse, lover, lifeblood: how my grandmother woke the genius in Picasso

As the Tate’s thrilling new show opens, Olivier Widmaier Picasso remembers his grandmother’s secret life with the great artist

On Saturday 8 January 1927, in the late afternoon, my grandfather noticed a young woman through the window of the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. He waited until she came out, then greeted her with a big smile. “Mademoiselle, you have an interesting face. I would like to paint your portrait.” He added: “I’m sure we shall do great things together. I’m Picasso,” pointing, by way of introduction, at a large book about himself. “I would like to see you again. I’ll meet you at 11 o’clock on Monday in Saint-Lazare Métro station.” Marie-Thérèse Walter, my future grandmother, had just met the love of her life. And Picasso had been reborn.

She had ...