Picasso Museum of Barcelona

Gored Horse
Barcelona, 1917
Graphite pencil on canvas with ochre primer
80.2 x 103.3 cm
Donated by the artist, 1970
MPB 110.012

The Work

Picasso was a big fan of bullfights from early childhood and throughout his life. This is no great surprise as the corrida topic often appears in his work.

The horse draws the artist’s attention here – an agonising disembowelled horse spilling torrents of blood. Alone before death, the animal topples gradually to its knees, lifting its head and looking fixatedly up, an expression of suffering that strikes the spectator.

With a firm vigorous stroke in charcoal over a sepia canvas, Picasso models the figure of the animal with an exquisite formal quality and marked expressionism. The figure here can be seen as what would reappear 20 years later with such force: The Gored Horse is a clear precedent of Guernica, the first drawings of which show the horse also toppled.

The work is part of the artist’s 1970 donation to the city. On its arrival at the Servei de Restauració dels Museus d’Art (Art Museum Restoration Service), it was cleaned and disinfected from fungus. Temperature alterations, relative humidity, gases, acids and dust had caused many different-sized stains on the back of the canvas which bled through to the front on the lower layers. A careful restoration process as well as rigorous preventative supervision with regards to temperature and lighting conditions have allowed the work to be recovered and shown to the public, with alternate rest periods.


Room 10