Rare Chance To See Picassos Gift To City Razed By Nazis

Art lovers have the rare chance to view these Picassos not seen for almost two decades since the artist gave them to a leading Warsaw museum after he saw the destruction caused by the Nazis.

The Germans destroyed up to 90 percent of Warsaw’s buildings and deliberately demolished, burned, or stole an immense part of its cultural heritage to punish the city for the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.

Video Credit: CEN/@MuzeumNarodowe

Picasso visited the city in 1948 and was so moved by what he saw that he donated all the ceramics he had with him to the National Museum in Warsaw (NMW).

However, the art history museum’s collection, which boasts more than 830,000 works of art, is so vast that they have been gathering dust in storage for years and have not been on public view sine 2002.

Credit: CEN/National Museum in Warsaw
Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Luncheon on the Grass’ (after Manet), 1962, colour linocut

But the NMW has now brought its priceless Picasso collection out into the light of day for a special exhibition called ‘Treasures of the NMW’, which is on until 24th February.

A museum spokeswoman told Central European News (CEN): “The museum has the biggest Picasso collection in Poland, including 20 ceramic plates, 46 drawings and one painting.”

The main attraction is a set of ceramics made by Picasso between 1947 and 1971. Ten plates featuring images of faces, birds and still life scenes – including one showing bacon and eggs on a plate – are on public display for the first time since 2002.

They document the early stage of the artist’s fascination with ceramic art and – unusually – were created as unique pieces. Picasso’s later ceramics were manufactured in series of as many as 500 identical copies. 

The exhibition also includes Picasso prints, mostly lithographs, from the NMW collection, including 14 works from the artist’s longest-running series, Woman in an Armchair.

They feature Francoise Gilot, the artist’s then partner, who is portrayed in some of the images in a sheepskin coat which Picasso bought her from Poland. 

Visitors will also be able to see two colour linocuts from 1962 printed by the artist himself, the Bust of a Woman in a Hat, a portrait of Picasso’s second wife, Jacqueline Roque, and The Luncheon on the Grass, which was inspired by a painting by Edouard Manet. These works were donated by Henry Kahnweiler, a friend of the artist’s and a collector of his works. 

Credit: CEN
An archive photograph of the National Museum in Warsaw, Poland, 1938

The exhibition will also feature the museum’s only Picasso drawing, Polish Girl, a 1948 portrait of a young woman in a shawl.

It is the first in a planned series of exhibitions in which the museum plans to show off some of its normally hidden art treasures to the public.

NMW Director Professor Jerzy Miziolek said: “We would like to acquaint our visitors with some of the most unique artefacts held at the NMW in a casual, minimalist setting.

“We want to rediscover works of well-known, popular artists that – for lack of space – cannot be presented in our permanent galleries.”


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Story By: Bartosz Staszewski, Sub-EditorJoseph Golder, Agency: Central European News

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