Saturday, August 26, 2006

Picasso, bunny and his borrowed friend, Lump

David Douglas Duncan, now 90 and living in the south of France, is an American photographer known for his war photography and his photographs of his friend Pablo Picasso. He has so far published 25 books of photographs, including eight of Picasso at work and play. The latest of these is “Picasso and Lump: A Dachshund’s Odyssey”. That's Lump the dachshund on the right in 1957, with Picasso and the paper rabbit Picasso made for him (which Lump promptly took out in the garden and started chewing -- leaving one less Picasso masterpiece for posterity).

The dog originally belonged to Duncan, as Alan Riding explains in the New York Times.
The sequence starts on April 19, 1957, the day that Lump met Picasso. Mr. Duncan, who had first photographed Picasso a year earlier, brought Lump along for the ride, largely because the dog did not get along well with Mr. Duncan’s other pet, an Afghan hound called Kublai Khan.

“Lump immediately decided that this would be his new home,” Mr. Duncan recalled in an interview on a visit to Paris, noting pointedly that “lump” means “rascal” in German. “He more or less said, ‘Duncan, that’s it, I’m staying here.’ And he did, for the next six years.”

Picasso was apparently equally entranced. That very day, he did his first portrait of Lump, a signed and dated portrait of the dog that he painted on a plate while having lunch with Jacqueline Roque, his new partner, whom he would marry four years later.
Lump stayed with Picasso for six years, during which time the little dachshund and the artist were inseparable. Lump often was in the studio with Picasso while he worked, a rare privilege, which may be why he appears in so many paintings.
Yes, that’s Lump at the bottom of the canvas in Picasso’s multiple reinterpretations of Velázquez’s masterpiece “Las Meninas.” Gone is the somnolently regal hound of the original. In its place is, well, a sausage with four short legs and two pointed ears. [See example at link.]

Picasso painted 44 studies in his “Meninas” series between Aug. 17 and Dec. 30, 1957 — and Lump appears in 15 of them.
When Lump contracted a spinal problem common to dachshunds in 1963, Duncan took him back so he could take him to Stuttgart for treatment. Lump stayed with his original owner for the rest of his life. In April 1973, Picasso -- and the canine friend he had once borrowed -- died.

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