The Charnel House

The Charnel House

The Charnel House (Le Charnier) is a c.1944–1948 painting by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), purportedly dealing with the Nazi genocide of the Holocaust. The black and white 'grisaille' composition centres on a massed pile of corpses, and was based primarily upon film and photographs of a slaughtered family during the Spanish Civil War.[1] It is considered to be Picasso's second major anti-war painting, the first being the monumental Guernica (1937), but it is not thought to be as significant as that work because the artist left it unfinished.[2] Picasso spent at least six months working on The Charnel House which has iconographic links to the graphic work of Picasso's Spanish compatriot Francisco de Goya (1746–1828). Picasso's friend and biographer Pierre Daix records that the title of the painting was not one assigned to it originally by Picasso himself – the artist referred to The Charnel House as simply 'my painting' or 'the massacre';[3] nevertheless, in later years after the Second World War Picasso refused to retitle the painting once its identity as The Charnel House gained popularity, and it was first exhibited as such following Picasso's joining of the Communist Party in 1946.


  1. ^ Pierre Daix, Picasso, Thames & Hudson, London, (1987), p.281
  2. ^ Clement Greenberg, Picasso Since 1945 in ArtForum Los Angeles, Volume 2, (October, 1966), p.29
  3. ^ Pierre Daix, Picasso, Thames & Hudson, London, (1987), p.282 n.

External links

  • MoMA, New York, The Charnel House[1]
  • Olga's Gallery, The Charnel House[2]
  • Oxford Art Online: Art and War [3]
  • Stern, F., Picasso and the War Years Artnet article, February 1999 [4]
  • Kendall, L. R., Pablo Picasso (1881–1973): The Charnel House, Pieces... Blogspot research note, April 2010 [5]