The first solo exhibition by Baya Mahieddine, born Fatima Haddad, was held at the Galerie Maeght in Paris in the autumn of 1947, when she was barely sixteen. After a childhood in Algeria, she had come to Europe with French intellectual and archivist Marguerite Caminat Benhoura, who adopted her and encouraged her creativity. The talented Baya was immediately embraced by the Parisian avant-garde, earning enthusiastic praise from leading figures on the international scene – starting with André Breton, who wrote the introduction to her first show. Her paintings on cardboard show lush natural landscapes inhabited by richly dressed women adorned with classic Maghrebi motifs. The luminous yellow dress worn by the woman in Femme robe jaune cheveux bleus (1947) emerges from a twilit background as she is attacked by four peacocks and a butterfly; Femme robe à chevrons (1947) shares an eye with the strange bird she appears to be mating with; and the straight and undulating lines running through Femme au panier et coq rouge (1947) bind the plumage of a giant rooster to the dress of the woman beside it. Amid images of wild, flourishing nature, these fairytales reveal a female figure as determined and independent as the young Baya herself.