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The Things of Warsaw / Room of Relics

Spodek z autografem Pabla Picassa z zastawy hotelu Bristol w Warszawie, MHW 19820

Saucer with Pablo Picasso’s (1881–1973) autograph from a tableware set of the Bristol Hotel in Warsaw

The outstanding Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), creator of the Cubism movement, painted his autograph with ink on a porcelain saucer. It happened on 6 September 1948, the last day of his visit to Poland, shortly before his return to France where he resided. Picasso was a guest at the Bristol Hotel on Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, which had operated since 1901 and was considered the most luxurious hotel not only in Warsaw, but all over Poland. The Neo-Renaissance building survived World War II and resumed operations in 1945. Picasso flew in, upon an invitation of the Polish authorities, on an aircraft arranged specifically for him. As a member of the French Communist Party, the artist participated in the World Congress of Intellectuals in Defence of Peace in Wrocław (25–28 August 1948), a propaganda event whose main goal was to criticise the “American imperialism” and to manifest support for world peace as well as the acceptance of the Polish border on the Odra and Nysa Rivers. Picasso extended his stay to two weeks during which he also visited Kraków and Auschwitz. In Warsaw, he took part in official meetings with Polish artists and representatives of the authorities, he saw the destruction wrought by the war and parts of the city under reconstruction.

On 3 September 1948, he visited the Warsaw Housing Cooperative Estate in Koło, a modern social housing project in the historically working class district of Wola, designed by architects Helena (1900–1982) and Szymon Syrkus (1893–1964). There, he drew a mermaid with a hammer on the wall of one of the apartments on Deotymy Street. With time, due to numerous visitors eager to see the mermaid, the drawing proved too troublesome to the apartment residents and was painted over in 1953. Picasso left a similar mermaid on 4 September 1948 in the family album of Stanisław Tołwiński (1895–1969), Mayor of Warsaw. On the same day, he was decorated with the Commander’s Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta at the Belvedere Palace.

During his visit to the Polish capital, the artist donated a collection of ceramic ware and graphic prints to the National Museum in Warsaw. The saucer with Pablo Picasso’s autograph was donated to the Museum of Warsaw by the Museum of Sports and Tourism in Warsaw in 1978.

Saucer with Pablo Picasso’s (1881–1973) autograph from a tableware set of the Bristol Hotel in Warsaw
RUDOLFSTADT; 1931–1948, SIGNED 1948
MHW 19820
DIA. 14,5 CM

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