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Focus on an original photograph of Pablo Picasso at the Casa di Marco Lucrezio, Pompeii spring 1917

Original photograph, likely unique and unpublished, of Pablo Picasso at the Casa di Marco Lucrezio, Pompeii spring 1917

Paris 1917 | 6,3 x 8,6 cm | one photograph

Original photograph depicting Pablo Picasso in the spring of 1917 at the Casa di Marco Lucrezio in Pompeii, holding a twig, in front of a wall on which there is a Pompeian fresco.

Contemporary silver print, perhaps unique, from Jean Cocteau's personal archives then the Maurice Sachs collection. 
Exceptional almost undiscovered and probably unpublished photograph taken by Jean Cocteau during the stay.


On 16 April 1917, Picasso visits Pompeii accompanied by Jean Cocteau and Léonide Massine to prepare the ballet Parade, the first work described as “surrealist” by Guillaume Apollinaire, for the new season of Serge de Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. On his return, this initiatory journey inspired his monumental painting: the Parade stage curtain, a real visual signature of the ballet, marking the beginnings of Picasso's neo-classical period, and today preserved at the Musée national d'Art Moderne Georges Pompidou. Pierre Daix, in his bibliography dedicated to the painter, recounts the aesthetic shock caused by the discovery of the Pompeian frescoes:

“Giovanni Carandente, to whom we owe the best studies on this trip, highlights that Picasso “was strongly struck by the animation and the sensuality that the cataclysm of the year 79 AD had brutally destroyed. If it is true, as he wrote to Gertrude Stein, that he immediately drew “many Pompeian fantasies which are a little daring”, attracted as he was by the erotic elation that emerges from these licentious paintings, [...] these memories settled in him to emerge with force thereafter. [...] Everything that had made up the Pompeian universe was preserved on the site as well as in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples [...].

In its singularity, this universe contributed to enriching Picasso's cultural heritage with something more alive, more trembling than he had gained from his museum visits until then. He particularly loved the conciseness of the paintings: two or three years later, the impressions felt in Pompeii were to translate into a real creative explosion, a series of paintings which all bore traces of these never buried memories. This source was to remain alive until La Danse of 1925.” (Pierre Daix, Picasso).
Unique and early original photograph of Picasso, taken and printed by his friend Jean Cocteau, in a mythical place that will influence his aesthetic for the long-term.
Provenance: Jean Cocteau's personal archives then the Maurice Sachs collection and Max-Philippe Delatte.

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