PABLO PICASSO AND THE MARINIÈRE

PABLO PICASSO AND THE MARINIÈRE

On October 28, 1943, at a time when he feared being deported by the Nazis, the Spanish artist painted himself sitting on a chair, with his gaze lost in dark thoughts. The interesting detail is that for this sort of testament he chose to wear a striped shirt: a very precise choice made by the artist. At the forefront of everything, anticipating his times, Pablo Picasso proved to be perfectly fashionable, giving artistic dignity to a garment that, until a few decades ago, was intended only for men of the sea.

Five years earlier, Picasso still traumatized by the bombing of Guernica moved to Royan, a small river port located at the mouth of the Gironde. In this pretty seaside resort he sought protection from the catastrophe that was invading the planet: the Second World War.

But why choose this anonymous village in New Aquitaine? Because his friend Marie-Thérèse Walter and Maya, the daughter the two had together, were on holiday in that place. 

Accompanied by his beloved Afghan hound Kasbek and his assistant, Pablo fled Paris, away from the dangers of the capital. In Royan he took up residence at the Hôtel du Tigre and then moved, four months later, to the top floor of the Villa Les Voiliers, a large, very bright apartment, located just above the port.

Every day the painter followed a fairly consolidated routine: early in the morning he drank a glass of Evian, listened to the military press releases from the radio of the Café Régent, then, together with his secretary and trusted advisor Jaime Sabartès, he took long walks around the town, browsing among the shops and market stalls. His excursions, often accompanied by eccentric purchases, ended on the seafront, where he stopped to contemplate the surrounding landscape.

Probably influenced by the marine environment, between 13 and 17 September 1939 Picasso performed ten known versions of “Homme en tricot rayé” (“Man in a striped shirt”)

So it was that when he decided to immortalise himself, his physiognomy was confused with that of those men, so genuine and authentic, scrutinized so many times on Royan beach.

When, in 1944, the American journalist Jerome Seckler asked him why he had painted himself as a sailor, he replied: "because I always wear a sailor's shirt, look!”, So saying he opened his shirt and showed his underwear: it was white with blue stripes.

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