She was a mistress of Pablo's, and appeared many times in his work. His art and personal life would often intertwine like this, as it did for so many expressive artists.
Whilst truly abstract, Picasso also uses light effects in this work, as well as twisting his model into a surreal form. Over time he would alter her appearance further and further, until artworks would be truly surreal and abstract.
This particular Picasso artwork rose to prominence in 2010 when it was sold at Christie's in New York for $106.5 million. At the time, this was a world record and marked the start of a frenzy of activity in the art world as other investors looked to move funds into the art market. Many of these investors had little or no interest in art and were just looking to profit as much as possible from whatever the best option available happened to be.
Picasso chose nudes for many of his portrait paintings, and these serve as an interesting genre within his overall career. He also used Marie-Thérèse Walter as his portrait subject for many drawings and paintings, famously in The Dream. 1932 was a highly significant year for Picasso in both his personal and professional life, gifting us some of his best and most famous work.