Pablo Picasso and William Shakespeare



In days gone by Cambridge University Press adorned the covers of their New Shakespeare with a drawing of Shakespeare by Picasso. Pictured here is Othello from 1969.

The inspiration for the drawing was British art patron Roland Penrose, who visited the artist in November 1963 and suggested that he do a portrait of Shakespeare to mark the quatercentenary of the poet's birth to be celebrated the following year. Picasso was amused by the suggestion and asked for some images of the poet to work from. He then produced three sketches, measuring 10 x 8 inches, spending no more than five minutes on each.

One of the drawings was exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery (London) where the deputy keeper, Dr Roy Strong, described it as "magnificent", adding "It's a remarkable piece of art all right". And Roland Penrose said that it "made Shakespeare the great observer of life".

At the same time, Picasso also made a series of drawings on the theme of Hamlet, which were published in 1965 in Louis Aragon's Shakespeare.

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