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Portrait of the violoncellist Ricardo Pichot (1920)
Portrait du violoncelliste Ricardo Pichot
Analysis: This portrait, heretofore unpublished, was painted in Cadaqués in June 1920 at Sortell, an estate of the Pichots, who played a decisive role in Dalí’s vocation.
H. Josep Pichot – called Pepito – the best friend of Dalí’s father, urged him to allow Salvador to paint. In Cadaqués it was customary to say “handsome and artistic like a Pichot.” Luis and Ricardo Pichot, for instance, were musicians who formed, with the pianist Costa, a well-known chamber-music trio. In this picture, Ricardo is seated in the middle of the music room of “the house of the Italians,” so named because one day his sister, the famous singer Maria Gaye, appeared there at a window and said to a too insistent Italian tenor, “In July, neither woman nor snails.” Ricardo agreed to come to pose every morning for a week on condition that he could play his cello. An excellent performer, preferred pupil of Pablo Casals, and first-prize winner at the Paris Conservatory at the age of seventeen, he was eccentric in a superior way just like his brothers and sisters, practicing his violoncello in the midst of a flock of turkeys or on a boat in the Bay of Cadaqués. Here he wears raw-silk pajamas, rose-colored with a golden cast. Dalí still remembers these sittings during which, by playing a habancra, the cellist proved to him that in Rimsky-Korsakov there were already habaneras, and that in the Catalonian sardanas there was some Rimsky-Korsakov. Dalí states, “At their house during this period, I had seen a grand piano rise up among the rocks and in the moonlight I had heard concerts. Therefore, this is the reason that when I myself paint pianos on the rocks, or with cypress trees, it is not a reverie, these are things I have seen and which impressed me.”
In 1920 there was a change in Dalí’s color harmonies. The impressionistic touch gave way to a technique closer to that used by Bonnard. In these pictures one can observe Dalí’s care in rendering the exact color when one knows that the walls of the room were covered with a mixture of whitewash and a concoction of pine-bark el mangra which was used by the fishermen to protect their nets.