The blockbuster Picasso exhibition at Tate Modern has been criticised by Dame Mary Beard after she said it presented the artist as “heroic” for managing to have a wife and a mistress.Speaking at the Sheldonian Theatre at the University of Oxford yesterday, Dame Mary, 64, complained about the gallery for its portrayal of the Spanish artist’s personal relationships.”There was an extremely good exhibition last year of Picasso in the Tate,” said the classicist, who last year published her book Women and Power: A Manifesto.”I got home and read the catalogue … and it said ‘Picasso at this point is brilliantly managing both his wife and his mistress’.”I don’t mind the guy having a wife and a mistress, but somehow when talking about the great male artist, this could be sort of heroism. Goodness me.” She said: “What we are likely to see is a whole load of prosecutions that fail in the next two or three years and they partly fail because some people throw a hell of a lot of money at it to make sure they do fail. Why can’t we have a truth and reconciliation committee and just say ‘fess up boys’.”Let’s think ahead and let’s not have loads of women drawn into the witness box and be interrogated.”Tate Modern declined to comment. Dame Mary BeardCredit:Clara Molden Picasso had an affair with Marie-Thérèse Walter Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Picasso in Paris in around 1930 Credit:AFP “We’ve got to learn to rethink it – it needs rethinking hundreds of years – the assumptions of what women do.”Dame Mary continued to argue for a rethink over the punishment for sexual harassment.She said the MeToo movement was destined to fail due to the court system. Instead, she called for alleged abusers to face truth and reconciliation committees. Picasso’s erotic painting of Walter, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, which became the third most expensive painting when sold at auction for $106.5 million in 2010 (£68 million at the time), helped bring in 521,080 visitors between March and September last year, putting the Tate Modern at the top of the UK’s most visited attractions list.Dame Mary, a professor of classics at the University of Cambridge, said she consulted the exhibition’s reviews after being shocked by what she read.Speaking at the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival, she added: “When I was looking at the reviews … I didn’t see anybody say ‘there’s a bit of a heroism here, it’s terribly difficult having a wife and a mistress and painting on a daily basis’ .” The five-star rated exhibition, Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy, documented the artist’s life from the age of 50, when he was engaged in a passionate affair with a young Marie-Thérèse Walter, without the knowledge of his wife, a time during which Picasso produced some of his greatest works.Tipped as a “once-in-a-lifetime” show, it exhibited portraits of Walter in its first room, and her striking features – notably her prominent nose – were littered throughout in painting and sculpture. However, she admitted that the problem was cultural and that in order to work towards gender equality, people must relearn history. “The problem is the culture that we have inherited and learned, and we don’t actually want to give that up,” she added.”If you go to the Ashmolean, you see images of women who don’t speak, or if they do, they are firmly put back in their box. “We don’t want to give up the whole of Renaissance Art and it’s not a question of saying ‘can you put that away?’.