Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 18811973)
Oil on canvas; 24 1/8 x 19 7/8 in. (61.3 x 50.5 cm)
Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998 (1999.363.63)
© 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Picasso painted Still Life with a Bottle of Rum during the summer of 1911 in Céret, the small town in the French Pyrenees that was so popular with poets, musicians, and artistsespecially the Cubistsbefore World War I that it has been called the "spiritual home of Cubism."
One is hard-pressed to see the bottle of rum indicated in the title of this work, which was painted during the most abstract phase of Cubism, known as "high" Analytic Cubism (191012). In the upper center of the picture are what seem to be the neck and opening of a bottle. Some spidery black lines to the left of it might denote sheet music, and the round shape lower down, the base of a glass. In the center, at the far right, is the pointed spout of a porrón (Spanish wine bottle). This is one of the first works in which Picasso included letter forms. It has been suggested that the ones shown at the left, LETR, refer to Le Torero, the magazine for bullfighting fansPicasso being one of thembut they might simply be a pun on lettre, French for "word."