In 1937, in the midst of the uporar of the Spanish Civil War, Picasso, as is well known, undertook one of his most emblematic paintings: Guernica, the 80th anniversary of which will be in 2017.
Apart from the influences that mediated between the artist and his work, there was something much closer, more biographical and less known: the preparation, rehearsals and first night in the French capital of the tragedy La Númance (La Numancia), by Miguel de Cervantes.
And some authors have commented on the relation between Guernica-Numancia, recuperating in this way two essential aspects: the representation of the work by Cervantes in 1937 and the poster by André Masson, of its staging. But nobody has ever delved into this question. We think that Picasso, in a certain way, paid an old debt with Guernica to the author of Don Quixote, which interested him from his early youth, that is to say, from his schooling in A Coruña, as evidence by the Cervantine themes that figure in some of his books of text.
The talk revolves around the idea of Numancia through the eyes of the actor, a friend of Picasso, Jean-Louis Barrault, who reheared the piece at number 7, rue des Grands-Augustins, just in the moment that Picasso took over this studio.
It was staged for the first time on 22nd April 1937 (four days after the bombing of Guernica), with the set and costumes designed by Masson.
We therefore tackle, in passing, some of these keys of Cervantes in the early Picasso, as well as the Iberian symbols in Guernica, the projects of Masson-Picasso or the Numantine symbols in Guernica, comparing the mythical work with the tragedy that Cervantes would write between 1581-1585, on his return from captivity in Algiers.