Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Picture of the Day: The Embrace

Pablo Picasso: L'Etreinte. (1903)

During my lonesome weekend in Paris, a month ago, I visited Musée de l'Orangerie , a museum I hadn't seen in about 13 years.  
This pastel, by Pablo Picasso, "L'Étreinte" caught my eye, and I went back to see it several times during my visit.  A rather small, pale picture, it could easily be overseen, when most people only come to the Orangerie to see Monet's "Nympheas", but it hit me more than any other painting or drawing that morning.
It was made in 1903, during Picasso's Blue Period, and "blue" can be interpreted in several ways, both from the cool, bluish palette of colors, and also from the frame of mind of the artist at that time.  His friend Carles Casagemas, a painter from Barcelona, was dead, and when Picasso came back to Paris, he took over his friend's studio there.  Grief over a good friend's death, the cold light of that place, maybe even the shadow of his friend, all of this has certainly influenced Picasso's work.
Look at the couple.  They are naked, in more than one sense of the word.  They are embracing, but not really getting close.  Her pregnant belly comes between them, and I can feel the quiet, unspoken despair of a condition that should have been a happy one, but instead this pregnancy just adds to their already difficult situation.  "How on earth are we going to manage?..."


  1. Hi there
    I was in this place Sunday afternoon (28th August 2016) and had a similar experience. Was in Monet's house in Giverny the previous day and spent quite some time admiring his water lillies. However this particular painting"L'Étreinte" brought tears to my eyes.So much despair, sorrow and anxiety.
    Typical of the great master to leave you wondering.

    1. Hi,
      Happy to hear about your Orangerie experience. And thanks for reading, and commenting. Have a nice day!


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