Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Fall 2011 Newsletter

Plate painted by Pablo Picasso donated
to Ransom Center by David Douglas Duncan

Man displaying painted plate to a dog while a woman watches. Click to enlarge.

While Jacqueline Roque looks on, Lump, David Douglas Duncan's dachshund, inspects the luncheon plate Pablo Picasso has just painted for and dedicated to him. La Californie, Cannes. Gelatin silver negative. April 19th, 1957.
© David Douglas Duncan.

The Ransom Center has received a plate painted by Pablo Picasso from David Douglas Duncan, a photojournalist whose archive resides at the Center.

Picasso painted the plate, a piece of commercial dinnerware, at his home Villa La Californie in Cannes, France, on April 19, 1957. Dedicated to Duncan's dog Lump, a dachshund, the plate is 24 centimeters in diameter and contains a portrait of Lump.

Through the encouragement of photojournalist Robert Capa, Duncan met Picasso on February 8, 1956, when he visited the artist in the south of France. Upon his arrival, Jacqueline Roque, Picasso's companion at the time, led Duncan up to the bathroom where Picasso was in the bath. Duncan presented Picasso a ring he had made for the occasion, and a bond was formed between the two men.

In April 1957, Duncan returned to La Californie, bringing Lump with him, and began extensively photographing Picasso, his home, and his family in their daily lives. Duncan wrote about Lump's visit, "[a]fter his first exploratory survey of Villa La Californie, it was 'Adios, Rome!' and from that moment on Lump became a permanent resident at Picasso's home."

While eating lunch one day, Picasso asked Duncan if Lump had ever had a plate of his own. Duncan responded no. At that point, Picasso picked up his lunch plate, and with brush and paint that were at the table, began painting a simple, yet detailed, portrait of Lump. The plate was inscribed to Lump, signed and dated by Picasso, then handed to Duncan.

Duncan donated the plate in honor of his friendship with Stanley Marcus, who suggested in 1996 that Duncan donate his archive to the Ransom Center.  

Learn more about the David Douglas Duncan archive

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