Picasso and Perpignan


So pleased we saw the Picasso show at the newly restored Musée Hyacinthe Rigaud in the centre of Perpignan’s old town. The exhibition was excellent, one of 6o in a series exploring Picasso’s relationship with the Mediterranean, in many European museums: Spain, France, Greece, Turkey, Morocco, Italy. This is a real intimate glimpse of Picasso’s days spent here in Perpignan with the Lazerme family in the mid 1950s. The family treasures have finally been revealed, paper napkins drawn by Picasso, paper cut-outs, ceramics and portraits of Madame Lazerme and other visiting friends like Jean Cocteau. There are many photos, Picasso with his children, Claude and Paloma, in the courtyard, and the family ensemble at lunch, a moment with both Francoise Gilot and Jacqueline Roque at the table in September 1954. Loans of paintings and sketches complete the evocation of the period and Picasso’s pleasure in this Southern region of France, close to his beloved Spain where he refused to set foot while Franco was in power.

The newly restored museum itself is a triumph, converting what used to be rather gloomy institution into a light and airy pleasure. The orignal hotel particulier, donated to the  town by the Lazermes, has been extended by acquiring the mansion next door,creating a large, flexible and important art space.


Temporary exhibitions- such as the current Picasso- are on the second floor, all calm, modern, big rooms with a marvellous view down into the courtyard, walls of ochre against a dramatic deep blue sky. The first floor unites both houses, preserving the traditional architecture of marble fireplaces, tall shuttered French windows, dark red octagonal tiles.IMG_7801 Maillol room

Each room has its artist, the sculptures and paintings of Maillol, a selection of Dufy including his studio in Perpignan, capturing the tiles and iron balconies so typical of the town. Picasso is there of course, as well as local painters like de Monfried, Terrus and Fayet, rendering the local landscape with deep affection.Angoustrine

Angoustrine chapel in the Pyrenees by George Daniel de Montfried

The museum includes several rooms of Gothic and Baroque sculptures, paintings and a vast restored 15th century altarpiece depicting Perpignan. Then on the ground floor, with big shop windows onto the street, are local contemporary artists. The whole is complemented by access to beautiful small courtyard gardens full of banana plants and aloes. A real addition to the pleasures of Perpignan.