Der Raub der Sabinerinnen (nach David) / The Rape of the Sabine Women (after David)

Picasso, Pablo (1881-1973) | Künstler:in


In the painting ‘The Rape of the Sabine Women (after David) ‘ Picasso thematised a founding legend of Rome. This story is reinterpreted here from Picasso's artistic as well as stylistic perspective. Between 1962 and 1963, he produced several versions of the theme of the ‘Rape of the Sabine Women‘. This shows his deep interest in classical-antique motifs and his ability to interpret these themes in novel ways. The painting refers to two important art-historical models of the French artists Nicolas Poussin and especially Jacques-Louis Davids from the end of the 18th century. Picasso took his cue from David not only in the organisation of the painting as a whole: at the top a backdrop of walls, temples, palaces, and in the lower half of the picture the throng of fighting human and horse bodies. He also included important individual motifs: for example, he placed the powerful figure of a warrior standing with his legs wide apart in the front right-hand corner, raising his sword.

The up-and-coming city-state of Rome was short of women and therefore also of offspring. As a result, Romulus decided to invite the neighbouring tribe of the Sabines to a feast in order – at a moment when everyone was distracted by fighting games – to kidnap their unmarried girls. Picasso painted the picture against the historical background of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which reached its climax in the second half of October 1962. Picasso sharpened his scene in that he turned the theft of women, which in ancient Rome ultimately ends in reconciliation, into a massacre spiralling completely out of control. And he cited his own work ‘Guernica‘, which by this time was already widely known as an artistic indictment of violence, destruction and war.

Material & Technik
Öl auf Leinwand
Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Mougins, 4.-8. November 1962
AM 4248 P