Picasso could ridicule Hitler in a portrait found in Italy

Detail of the painting found in Italy and that Picasso asked to do between 1935 and 1937. / EFE

It is a painting that the genius from Malaga would have given to his friend and colleague Paul Klee and in which a rattlesnake surrounds the face of the Nazi president

CR Madrid

A painting attributable to Picasso, in which the genius from Malaga caricatures Adof Hitler and pays homage to his friend and colleague Paul Klee, has been presented in Italy. Annalisa Di Maria, a member of the committee of experts in Art and Literature at the UNESCO center in Florence, assures that in her opinion there is no doubt that it is a work of Picasso. She, however, acknowledges that "the work cannot currently be attributed to her with certainty" and that "the painting will have to be investigated further." If the Picassian authorship is confirmed, it would be a piece of great value.

For Di Maria it is a painting that Picasso would have given to Klee, one of the artists most persecuted by the Nazis, although the canvas does not appear in any of the catalogs of the works of "degenerate art" stolen or seized by the Nazis called . It is a "very uncomfortable" painting because it ridicules the figure of the Führer, which would explain why it was kept hidden. Painted in the style of Klee, it is more than sarcastic with the genocidal German president whose face appears surrounded by a rattlesnake and with swastikas at its ends.

Klee and Picasso were friends and admired each other. It is known that they met on at least two occasions and that in 1914 Klee made a work to pay homage to Picasso. It is believed that the Spanish painter would do the same with this painting, which belongs to the private collection of an Italian family, one of whose ancestors worked in a train station, where it is believed that the fabric could have been found.

The first studies of the pigments carried out at the University of Ascoli Piceno, in the center of Italy, would have dated between 1935 and 1937 the work that has been titled 'The eye of the serpent' – due to the rattlesnake that marks the contour of the face of the dictator Di María explains that if Picasso's authorship is confirmed, we would be facing an exceptional discovery and a great example of Picasso's determined opposition and struggle against Hitler.

The author caricatures Hitler with the inclusion of some intolerable elements for the Führer and the Nazi regime, such as facial makeup, lipstick and a pipe, since Hitler hated tobacco. The word 'Schweigen' (shut up in German) appears written on his lips, which could have several interpretations, such as the desire to keep the work secret, to prevent its author from being persecuted by the Nazis, or to denounce the persecution and censorship exercised by the national socialist regime.

matching calligraphy

Although the piece is not signed, the calligraphic expert Stefano Fortunati stressed after analyzing it that the initial 'S' of 'Schweigen' coincides with Picasso's handwriting. For Di Maria there are many elements that would reveal the authorship of the painter from Malaga, such as the shape of the eyes or lips that are "the same" as those that are also found in the portrait he made of Joseph Stalin, although the painting is "a hybrid” between the pictorial characteristics of the artist from Malaga and those of Klee, since it was intended as a gift to the Swiss-German artist.

Di Maria adds that the analysis of the painting has determined that there are chemical elements used by Picasso at that time and that over time they caused them to be somewhat discolored and had to be retouched. «The work deserves to be known, studied again and seen by other experts to appreciate its importance. Without a doubt, it represents one of the most important works of the 20th century as a critic of Nazism. A testimony of dissidence, bearer of the truth of those horrors committed by one of the bloodiest dictators in history. Only a genius and a master of expressionism with a deep sense of poignant irony could have created such a painting," he added.

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