Pablo Picasso

The Charnel House

Paris, 1944-45

Medium
Oil and charcoal on canvas
Dimensions
6' 6 5/8" x 8' 2 1/2" (199.8 x 250.1 cm)
Credit
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
93.1971
Copyright
© 2016 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Painting and Sculpture
This work is not on view.
Pablo Picasso has 1,238 works online.
There are 2,242 paintings online.

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.
1945 - 1954, Pablo Picasso, Paris.
1954 - 1971, Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., New York and Warrenton, Virginia, purchased from the artist.
1971, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired by exchange and purchased from Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.

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