“It’s amazing how he could draw the details that you perceive as a mother—even the hair—in a very tender way. It’s surprising for a monster like Picasso,” said his granddaughter Diana Widmaier-Picasso in 2017, when she curated an exhibition at Gagosian Paris on Pablo and her mother, Maya. Picasso’s art looms so large in the 20th century, and his many women—wives, lovers, muses—are so well known, that his relationships with his four children seem to have flown under the radar despite their figuring heavily in his work. Published by Gagosian and edited by Diana, a new book explores the childhood of Maya, the daughter of Picasso and his lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, through the Spanish painter’s work. The second of his children (Picasso had Paulo with his first wife, Olga, and Claude and Paloma with the painter Françoise Gilot), Maya, now 85, was born on the eve of the Second World War, just before Picasso painted Guernica. (“It was part of a daily stroll,” she says of her life at age two. “Every morning I walked past Guernica.”) “He recognized she was born into a world on the brink of collapse,” Diana, an art historian who has specialized in the work of her grandfather, writes in the book’s introduction. His portraits of the young Maya possess a palpable gravity—as Diana says, Picasso portrayed his daughter with “the maturity of a 60-year-old.” The book also features a candid interview between mother and daughter in which they discuss Maya’s relationship with Picasso’s other women (“It was love at first sight with Françoise,” Maya says), and the hoards of fans and paparazzi that surrounded him. “That was the oppressive environment in which my father used a four-letter word in front of me, then said, ‘Oh, sorry,’ because we didn’t swear at home.” Then again, she did get to meet Charlie Chaplin and Brigitte Bardot. —Julia Vitale