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'oeuvre récentes de Picasso

  • Paris, Paul Rosenberg, 1926-06-15 to 1926-07-10

Exposition Picasso

  • Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 1932-06-16 to 1932-07-30


  • Zurich, Kunsthaus, 1932-09-11 to 1932-10-30

Exhibition of Masterpieces by Braque-Matisse-Picasso

  • London, Rosenberg & Helft, Ltd., 1936-10-05 to 1936-10-31

Picasso, Forty Years of His Art

  • Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), 1939-11 to 1940-01
  • Art Institute of Chicago, 1940-02 to 1940-03
  • City Art Museum of St. Louis, 1940-03 to 1940-04
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1940-04 to 1940-05
  • San Francisco Museum of Art, 1940-06 to 1940-07

Picasso, an American Tribute

  • New York, Paul Rosenberg & Co., 1962-04-25 to 1962-05-12

Exposition d'oeuvres choisies de Pablo Picasso

  • Paris, Paul Rosenberg, 1936-03-03 to 1936-03-31

Significant Objects: The Spell of Still Life

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2012-07-20 to 2013-01-21

Reinstallation of South Wing

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-10-07 to 1995-08-13

Seven Decades of Picasso

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1979-10-11 to 1980
  • Cahiers d'Art, p. 165
  • Elsen, A., Purposes of Art, p. 49
  • Henning, E., Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, fig. 18 p. 201
  • Cahiers d'Art, 1932, p. 93
  • Picasso: Forty Years of His Art, 1939, no. 191 p. 125
  • Barr, Alfred H., Picasso: Fifty Years of his Art, 1946, p. 138
  • Giuere, M., Initiation à l'oeuvre de Picasso, 1951, no. 64
  • Picasso, An American Tribute, 1962, no. 44
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 196
  • Boggs, Jean S., Picasso & Things, 1992, p. 201
  • Susan Landauer, Elmer Bischoff, the Ethics of Paint, 2001, fig. 21 p. 23
Impressions: Parsing Picasso’s 1932 Retrospective
Audio Tour
English | Español
Audio Tour Transcript
English | Español
English | Español
Transcripción de Audioguía
English | Español

Additional Artwork by Artist

La Table, Plate II in "Saint Matorel" by Max Jacob Pablo Picasso 1910 (published 1911)
Long-Haired Young Girl Pablo Picasso November 6, 1945
Long-Haired Young Girl Pablo Picasso November 7, 1945

Image reproduction permission may be granted for scholarly or arts related commercial use. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via the reproduction request form.

Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Additional permission may be required.

Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image. Upon receipt of both the signed contract and full payment, the Office of Rights and Reproductions will provide the image. A complimentary copy of the published material must be provided to the Norton Simon Museum.

Reproduction Request Form