Picasso’s Stravinksy — amusing anecdote

Updating this humorous remembrance from the composer Igor Stravinksy, who met Pablo Picasso in Italy in 1917. Picasso drew Stravinsky and gave him the portrait as a gift. But when Stravinksy tried to cross the border with it — the Great War was still raging — he was suspected of attempting to smuggle secret plans out of the country. As Stravinsky tells it in his autobiography:

“I shall never forget the adventure which later befell me in crossing the frontier at Chiasso on my return to Switzerland. I was taking my portrait, which Picasso had just drawn at Rome and given to me. When the military authorities examined my luggage they found this drawing, and nothing in the world would induce them to let it pass. They asked me what it represented, and when I told them that it was my portrait, drawn by a distinguished artist, they utterly refused to believe me. ‘It is not a portrait, but a plan,’ they said. ‘Yes, the plan of my face, but of nothing else,’ I replied. But all my efforts failed to convince them, and I had to send the portrait, in Lord Berners’ name, to the British Ambassador in Rome, who later forwarded it to Paris in the diplomatic bag.”

Makes one wonder what the border guards would have made of Picasso’s take on Kahnweiler:

Related: Artistic representation: Picasso versus Matisse.

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