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The Remains of Minotaur in a harlequin costume

Pablo Picasso

The Remains of Minotaur in a harlequin costume

Pablo Picasso
  • Original Title: La Dépouille du Minotaure en costume d’arlequin
  • Date: 1936
  • Style: Neoclassicism, Surrealism
  • Period: Neoclassicist & Surrealist Period
  • Theme: Harlequin
  • Genre: symbolic painting
  • Media: canvas, tempera
  • Tag: allegories-and-symbols, Minotaur
  • Dimensions: 900 x 1200 cm

This artwork was painted in 1936 as the stage curtain for Romain Rolland's play Le 14 Juillet. The work, which stands about 9 metres high and more than 12 metres across, has little direct reference to the play and was apparently hurriedly completed as an enlargement from a small gouache - an opaque watercolour - which had been finished long before the commission.

The subject is a strange choice, because there is no iconographic or narrative link to Romain Rolland's enthusiastic play. There is evidence, though, that the artist did try a Revolutionary design but did not have the time to complete it. There is a curious drawing dated June 13, 1936 which shows a joyful crowd with what looks like a symbolic reference to the taking of the Bastille. On the other hand, Picasso was obsessed by personal allusions at the time with reference to mythology and bullfighting. You can see in the curtain the confrontation of good and evil, the victory of youth, and beauty conquering menace, which was a logical rapprochement of the epic themes of both Picasso and Rolland.

Picasso was so attached to the work that he kept it in his Paris atelier throughout the war, and only donated it to Toulouse, a southern city with a strong bullfighting tradition, in 1965. At present the curtain is in its own gallery in the Espace d'Art Moderne et Contemporain, Toulouse, France.

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