Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
oil on canvas, Framed: 85.73 x 117.16 x 7.00 cm (33 3/4 x 46 1/8 x 2 3/4 inches); Unframed: 65.00 x 92.00 cm (25 9/16 x 36 3/16 inches). Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1985.57
Picasso painted this still life on January 29, 1939, just after the death of his mother and the fall of his beloved Barcelona to the fascists during the Spanish civil war. This painting expresses Picasso's despair through the bull's skull covered with decaying flesh, perhaps symbolizing brutality and darkness. Amid the horror and anguish, a flowering tree referring to the sacred oak of Guernica sprouts in the moonlight, suggesting hope for the rebirth of democracy in Spain.