The Ram's Head
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
On View

Spread on a blue and white tablecloth, this wild array both fulfills and defies the French term for still life: nature morte (“dead nature”). The slack jaw and sightless eyes of the ram’s head leave little doubt of its deadness, but a toothy fish bristling with scales, an octopus squirming in the lower left-hand corner, and a prickly sea urchin bring the composition to monstrous life. Picasso painted these fruits of the sea—framed by a lemon slice and a fleshy red anemone—during a summer spent at Juan-les-Pins, a town on the French Riviera. The picture’s gathering of un-dead creatures, however, seems far removed from the sunny glamour of the Mediterranean coast. The scene belongs to a 1925–1926 series sometimes called Picasso’s “still lifes of cruelty.”


  • Artist Name: Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
  • Title: The Ram's Head
  • Date: 1925
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 31-1/2 x 39 in. (80.0 x 99.1 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Mr. Alexandre P. Rosenberg
  • Accession Number: P.1978.6
  • Copyright: © Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Object Information

Pablo Picasso, gift 1925? to;
Paul Rosenberg, Paris (until 1940) and New York, by inheritance to;
Alexandre P. Rosenberg, New York, offered 30 January 1975 and subsequently given as a gift 29 December 1978/13 November 1979 to;
Norton Simon Museum.

Exposition d'oeuvres choisies de Pablo Picasso

  • Paris, Paul Rosenberg, 1936-03-03 to 1936-03-31
  • Boggs, Jean S., Picasso & Things, p. 201
  • Cahiers d'Art, p. 93
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum,1989, p. 196
  • Cahiers d'Art, p. 165
  • Picasso, An American Tribute,no. 44
  • Barr, Alfred H., Picasso: Fifty Years of his Art, p. 138
  • Picasso: Forty Years of His Art,no. 191 p. 125
  • Giuere, M., Initiation à l'oeuvre de Picasso,no. 64
  • Susan Landauer, Elmer Bischoff, the Ethics of Paint,fig. 21 p. 23
  • Elsen, A., Purposes of Art, p. 49
  • Henning, E., Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art,fig. 18 p. 201
Impressions: Parsing Picasso’s 1932 Retrospective
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Additional Artwork by Artist

Suite Vollard, 1939, Paris Pablo Picasso 1930-37
Suite Vollard, 1939, Paris: At the Bath Pablo Picasso October 17, 1930
Suite Vollard, 1939, Paris: Man Unveiling a Woman Pablo Picasso June 20, 1931

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