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Dora Maar, born Henrietta Théodora Markovitch in Paris, was the daughter of a French mother and Croatian father. Her father was an architect, and she lived with him for many years in Argentina before returning to France. She briefly participated in the surrealist movement with her photographs in the 1930s. Introduced in 1935 to Pablo Picasso at the Café Deux Magots by Paul Eluard, she became the painter's companion for several years, serving as the model for La Femme qui pleure (1937). She virtually supplanted Brassaï as Picasso's unofficial photographer during her relationship with him; she photographed the successive states of Guernica in addition to many of his sculptures. In addition to her collaboration with Picasso, she also worked closely with Eluard and Man Ray; she and Man Ray, for instance, made photographs to illustrate Le Temps déborde (1947), poems by Eluard that he published under the pen name Didier Desroches.
Gradually giving up photography for painting, she had several exhibitions between 1944 and 1958. She lived for many years far removed from artistic circles in a house given to her by Picasso in Ménerbes, in the south of France. She died in Paris in 1997.