Maya Widmaier-Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Claude Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Françoise Gilot recalled that "While Pablo was still working at the Musée d'Antibes [in 1946, the photographer Michel] Sima had come to us one day with a little owl he had found in a corner of the museum. One of his claws had been injured. We bandaged it and it gradually healed. We bought a cage for him and when we returned to Paris we brought him back with us and put him in the kitchen with the canaries, the pigeons and the turtledoves. He smelled awful and ate nothing but mice. Every time the owl snorted at Picasso he would shout, 'Cochon, merde, and a few other obscenities, just to show the owl he was worse-mannered than he was but Picasso’s fingers, though small, were tough and the owl didn’t hurt him. Finally the owl would let him scratch his head and gradually came to perch on his finger instead of biting it, but even so, he still looked very unhappy”" (F. Gilot, Life with Picasso, New York, 1964, pp. 144-145).
The owl was a sacred animal to Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom, and was the totemic bird of Antibes in antiquity. Picasso no doubt related to the stocky and clever predator.