Pablo Picasso

On the Beach

February 12, 1937

On the Beach was probably executed in February 1937. It was acquired by Peggy Guggenheim in New York from Mary Callery in 1947 and subsequently displayed in the entrance hall of Palazzo Venier dei Leoni. It is unquestionably one of the icons of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Painted at Tremblay-sur-Mauldre, it explicitly recalls several works executed in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when Picasso depicted bathers built out of stiff, geometric forms. The two bathers, whose attention is largely focused on playing with a boat, are graceful yet at the same time monstrous, almost sculptural in their physicality, and three-dimensional and simplified in their volumetric relief. The pictorial space they occupy is, by contrast, a beachscape partitioned into three flat, two-dimensional chromatic bands (beach–sea–sky). The composition appears calm and relaxed, suspended in its subtle lyricism, while simultaneously transmitting a veiled sense of menace by way of the sinister presence of the figure looming over the horizon. A sense of impotent voyeurism, suggested by the figure spying on the florid, exaggeratedly sexual forms of the bathers, brings to mind the classical myth of the bathing Diana, and the biblical tale of Susanna and the Elders.

On view

Artist Pablo Picasso
Original Title La Baignade
Date February 12, 1937
Medium Oil, conté crayon, and chalk on canvas
Dimensions 129.1 x 194 cm
Credit line Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)
Accession 76.2553 PG 5
Collection Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Type Painting

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On view

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