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Pigeon dans son nid et oeufs (Pigeon in Nest with Eggs)

On view

Pigeon dans son nid et oeufs (Pigeon in Nest with Eggs)

Artist: Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881 - 1973)

Date: 1912
Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall: 12 13/16 x 15 7/8in. (32.5 x 40.3cm)
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 53.210
Label Text
While in Sorgues, near Avignon in the south of France during the summer of 1912, Picasso painted a still life of dead birds that is understood as a memento mori, a traditional subject that is a meditation on the cycle of life. Painted at the same time, Pigeon in Nest with Eggs may have been conceived as its optimistic antidote. Tail and wing feathers fanned out, feet firmly planted, alert, plump and busy, the pigeon purposefully grips a twig in its beak to remind us that there will be more nest-building and more egg-laying next season.

For Picasso the birds had personal significance. José Ruiz Blasco, his father and first teacher, was renowned in Málaga for his paintings of domestic pigeons. Some of Picasso's earliest surviving drawings were based upon them. These memories must have flashed through his mind when Picasso painted Pigeon in Nest with Eggs some twenty years later. Indeed, the steeply raked angle, confined space and dark shadows suggest the interior of a nesting box-the kind of nesting place meticulously recorded in one of his father's best known compositions. By summer 1912 Don José's health was already precarious-he died in the following May. Appropriating his favorite subject matter was an outlet for Picasso's ambivalent filial feelings-a tribute, but also an uncompromising statement of the gulf between the revolutionary style of Cubism and Don José's brand of 19th-century anecdotal realism.

Elizabeth Cowling

© Estate of Pablo Picasso / Licensed by ARS, New York, NY