Plate Painted By Picasso Donated To UT’s Ransom Center

Picasso was so prolific that one can seem to find his work in most every major museum, but the Harry Ransom Center has acquired a Picasso original with a surprising little backstory.

The Ransom Center is a humanities archive, not an art museum, so of course it has a writer-photographer tie-in.

It seems that photojournalist David Douglas Duncan, whose archive is kept at the center, had lunch with Picasso at his French villa one April day in 1957. Duncan brought his dachshund, Lump. 

You never know what an artist might say, and Picasso surprised Duncan by asking whether Lump had ever had a plate of his own.

When Duncan said no, Picasso picked up a plate, started painting a portrait of Lump, inscribed it to the dog, dated it, and handed it to Duncan (who, naturally, shot photos of the process).

It may have been a spur-of-moment artwork, but similar plates by Picasso have been auctioned for up to $90,000.

The plate will be on display at the Ransom Center from Feb. 1 through July 31 as part of its new exhibit, “Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century.”

Image by David Douglas Duncan. Courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.


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