Picasso and Dachshunds (The Fascinating History Explained)
By Misty Layne
Even if you aren’t an art lover, you should be somewhat familiar with Picasso1. Renowned for his Cubist2 artworks, he is also remembered for his adoration of animals, especially dogs. It wasn’t uncommon for Picasso to “borrow” his friends’ pets! One such borrowed dog was a Dachshund named Lump.
You’ll often see Dachshunds popping up in and around the art world, as this dog breed has stolen many artists’ hearts. Andy Warhol had a Dachshund named Archie3 that went everywhere with him, and Bennett Miller did a work called “Dachshund UN4” that featured several of these dogs. But Picasso’s bond with his borrowed friend, Lump, far surpassed the typical artist and dog bond.
The Story of Lump
The story of Lump (meaning “rascal” in German) begins in 1957 when his owner, American photographer David Douglas Duncan, visited Picasso at his villa in Cannes, France. Lump joined him, and the dog quickly made it known that he was a bigger fan of the spacious villa than Duncan’s apartment. Though the dog was fond of his owner, he didn’t enjoy the nomadic lifestyle of a photographer (or the fact that Duncan’s acted as if Lump was his toy). So, when Picasso let Lump join them at the table, the pup decided then and there that he was staying.
Not that Picasso minded. He was fascinated by the little dog’s confidence in claiming what he wanted. In fact, Lump lived with Picasso for the next six years. It wasn’t long until Lump had the run of the home, able to explore wherever he wanted and do what he wanted.
Lump in Picasso’s Art
Lump very quickly became a muse for Picasso. The artist actually did his first drawing of the pup the very day he arrived at Picasso’s home when he drew Lump on a porcelain plate and gave it to Duncan as a thank you for letting his pet stay with him. It wasn’t long till the dog began slipping into the rest of the artist’s artwork. Altogether, there are about 50 drawings and paintings in which Lump features.
One of the more well-known drawings of Lump is Picasso’s “Dog”, which was part of the man’s famous sketch series featuring different kinds of animals. It’s a simple illustration that only shows the Dachshund’s silhouette and Picasso’s signature, but it captures the essence of Lump’s personality and the relationship between the dog and the man.
Another of Picasso’s more renowned pieces that featured Lump was the artist’s “Las Meninas” series based on the original piece by Diego Velazquez. The original “Las Meninas” is revered, so much so that a host of artists have put their spin on the painting. Picasso himself did roughly 58 paintings based on “Las Meninas”, with Lump being in 15 of them. Velazquez’s work consisted of Princess Margaret Therese of Spain, chaperones, maids, bodyguards, etc. In Picasso’s version, the Dachshund took the place of the Mastiff.
And, in an amusing turn of events, Lump wasn’t just a part of Picasso’s art; he actually ate some of it! Picasso created a rabbit for Lump made of cardboard with sugar on it, which quickly got eaten. Art historians still wonder what the value of that rabbit might’ve been.
The End of an Era
Duncan was a frequent visitor during Lump’s stay with Picasso, and it was on one of these visits in 1964 that he learned that Lump was ill. The dog was no longer at Picasso’s home, as the artist had surrendered him to a vet’s care. Upon visiting the vet, Duncan learned that Lump’s back legs were paralyzed due to a spinal condition (most likely Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)). The vet claimed nothing could be done, so he stopped feeding the Dachshund. However, Duncan refused to accept this and got a second opinion. As a result of this second opinion, Lump was able to live for another nine years.
But after Picasso surrendered the dog to the vet, he never saw Lump again. In an odd twist of fate, though, when the Dachshund died nearly a decade later, it was only ten days before Picasso’s death. Though their relationship didn’t have a wonderful ending, Lump lives on through Picasso’s art. “Dog” is still well-loved today and one of Picasso’s most famous pieces, one you can often find appearing in pop culture.
Picasso’s art was heavily influenced by the Dachshund breed and one Dachshund in particular. Lump quickly became the artist’s muse and popped up in almost 50 of Picasso’s art pieces. “Dog” is likely the most famous, but Dachshund’s appearance in Picasso’s take on “Las Meninas” is also renowned. The two didn’t have the most auspicious ending to their relationship, but as fate would have it, they ended up dying ten days apart. Lump and Picasso’s relationship truly was one for the ages.
See also: 11 Most Famous Dog Paintings (with Pictures)
Featured Image Credit: NORRIE3699, Shutterstock