Pablo Picasso. The Charnel House. Paris, 1944-45
Pablo Picasso

The Charnel House

Paris, 1944-45
Not on view
Oil and charcoal on canvas
6' 6 5/8" x 8' 2 1/2" (199.8 x 250.1 cm)
Mrs. Sam A. Lewisohn Bequest (by exchange), and Mrs. Marya Bernard Fund in memory of her husband Dr. Bernard Bernard, and anonymous funds
Object number
© 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture

The Charnel House was Picasso’s most overtly political painting since Guernica of 1937 (now in the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid). Echoing Guernica in its pyramidal composition and abstracted forms, it was inspired by newspaper war photographs, the tones of which are reflected in its somber black–and–white palette. The central jumble of figures—a murdered family sprawled beneath a dining table—might suggest the piles of corpses discovered in Nazi concentration camps upon their liberation. While Guernica, a commentary on the Spanish Civil War, may be seen as signaling the violent beginning of World War II, The Charnel House marks its horrific end.

Gallery label from 2008

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
The artist, 1945 - 1954
Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., New York and Warrenton, Virginia. Purchased from the artist, 1954 - 1971
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchased from Chrysler. Mrs. Sam A. Lewisohn Bequest (by exchange) and Purchase, 1971

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