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.
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor; NY: Solomon R. Guggenheim Musuem "Picasso and the War Years: 1937-1945" 10/10/98 - 5/9/99, cat. no. 27.
Barcelona, Spain: Museu Picasso. "Picasso. Indoor, Outdoor Landscapes" (10/26/99 - 1/30/00), exh. cat. 79.
Musée National Picasso Paris; "Picasso, Sous le Soleil de Mithra" 11/27/01 - 3/4/02.
Cleveland, Ohio: The Cleveland Museum of Art; February 20 - May 29, 2005. "Masterworks from The Phillips Collection". Not in exh. cat.
Cleveland Museum of Art (10/15/2006 - 06/03/2007); The Metropolitan Museum of Art (03/04/2007 - 06/03/2007); "Barcelona & Modernity: Picasso, Gaudí. Miró, Dalí", fig. 3 (cat. 9:41), p. 478, repr. 478.
CMA (organizer). Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: June 9 - Sept. 16, 2007; Cleveland Museum of Art, Oct. 21, 2007- January 13, 2008; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN, Feb. 21-June 1, 2008: "Modern Masters from the Cleveland Museum of Art"
Fundacion MAPFRE, Madrid (2/10/2014 - 5/11/2014): "Picasso's Studio"