The claim of the events surrounding the original drawing for the magazine hinges solely on his word - as he stated he was the one that asked for the drawing and he watched it being done in his presence - waited for it to dry - and took it straight to the magazine where it was printed.
Now the magazine and Mr. Daix stated that it was done for the 350th Anniversary of the first part of Cerventes book Don Quijote. The date corresponds with the first publishing having been in 1605 - but in previous correspondence between the pilot’s lawyer and the pilot - the pilot had questioned Mr. Daix’s claim stating that Cervantes completed the book in 1604 and sold it that year - then being published in 1605. The pilot stated in his letter with his lawyer that in reality 1955 would better relate to the 400th Anniversary of the character’s assumed birth date. While the pilot had a point - it was kind of a mute one because although the book was finished in July of 1604 - it was not published until January 16, 1605. I'll agree with the pilot that doing the anniversary in August is a bit late - but it was the prerogative of the magazine - and I would agree that the magazine was looking at the published year not the year that it was written...
However in Mr. Daix’s book published in 1987(Paris) and 1993 (English), he stated that
in the beginning of August, for ‘Lettres francais’ he did one of his most brilliant drawings - ‘Don Quichotte et Sancho Panca’ - to celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of Cervantes’ birth. While he was finishing the drawing, I waited in the park with Clouzot….
Cervantes was born in 1647, thereby making his 400th anniversary 1947, but that is not what the pilot had argued. He had contended that 1955 would be closer to the 400th Anniversary of the character in the book - not the author of the book...
Not done in his presence
He had told the pilot it was done in his presence but the book says he waited in the park. When questioned by IFAR, he clarified that he did wait in the park while Picasso worked on the drawing but came back when Picasso called him over and signed it in front of him and waited for the ink to dry.
Picasso was known to make very quick drawings - taking just a few minutes on average - why would Pierre Daix leave? How far away was the park?
Who was Clouzet?
Clouzet was the filmmaker that had been filming a movie of Picasso. Picasso worked with Clouzet for the two months during the summer of 1955 (meaning right before this August drawing) where Clouzet filmed Picasso everyday - all day - while Picasso did drawings for the film.
It seems difficult to believe that when Pierre asked Picasso to do this drawing - Picasso had him leave his presence to go sit with Clouzet somewhere else for a few minutes so that neither of them could watch him do it. Especially since Clouzet had been filming him everyday for his movie.
Pierre seems to suggest that the reason he had left was that Picasso was upset with Clouzet - and said that "his painting would go farther than his film"... Notice that Pierre wrote that Picasso said painting - not drawing... If Picasso was trying to show off as Pierre would indicate in this statement - why would he not have him watch?
Picasso never copied one of his works
Mr. Daix stated emphatically in his letter to the pilot that he did not know of any instance that Picasso ever copied one of his works. But Picasso has been known to copy his own works - specifically in 1948. In November 1948 Picasso painted two slightly different versions of The Kitchen, both monumental, monochrome, and virtually abstract. In her memoirs, Francoise Gilot tells the story of their making: "Pablo executed the first version of a large-format painting called The Kitchen, which was inspired by the kitchen at the Rue des Grands-Augustins in which we sometimes ate our evening meal. The room was painted all in white, and, apart from the usual utensils, there were two birdcages in it. The only accents of colour were the three Spanish plates hung on the walls. The kitchen was basically an empty white cube, enlivened only by the birds and the colourful plates. Pablo told me one evening: 'I am going to make a painting of that - that is to say, of nothing.' And that's exactly what he did. He drew a network of lines to structure the space and added a few concentric lines to create target - like shapes - the Spanish plates. In the background one could just make out the owl and the turtledoves. At this stage of the work he looked at the canvas and declared: 'I now see two possible directions for this canvas. Let's make a second version of it, exactly the same, and I will take it from there.'"
According to Fundación Picasso Málaga, which is a site containing explanations of particular issues, produced by the Picasso Foundation in order to provide extra information, apart from what is known from the Picassian chronology... http://fundacionpicasso.malaga.eu The drawing was made on August 10, 1955. Picasso was at his residence in La Californie (Cannes), where he received the visit of his friend and biographer Pierre Daix who mentioned to Picasso that the weekly Les Lettres Françaises wanted to reproduce one of his pieces in recognition of the 350th anniversary of “Don Quijote de la Mancha”. The outcome of this conversation was Don Quijote y Sancho which was published on the 18th of August, in the 581st edition of Les Lettres.
According to this - Pierre Daix was the one who asked Picasso to reproduce on of his works.
The other main contention that the art critics seem to have is that Picasso’s works are all cataloged - extensively. But how would they know for certain? The artist did thousands of drawings, paintings, sketches, etc. Specifically, in May of 1947, Francois Gilot gave birth to Claude - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2853545/bio
Leaving the question of who was keeping track of all of his works in the Spring of 1947?
Even John Richardson has stipulated that Zervos is often unreliable ….
- "While “Zervos” is the most commonly cited reference to Picasso’s works, assessments of its usefulness vary widely: specialists consulted by ARTnews described it as anything from “pretty complete” to “incomplete” to “very incomplete” to “woefully incomplete.” In general, it is accepted as systematic and thorough with regard to the material it includes, and it offers the advantage of presenting the work as Picasso himself intended. But it is also described as an index more than a proper catalogue, lacking such information as dimensions and provenance. Its 13,000 entries do not include a large portion of Picasso’s production, most notably the thousands of works he kept for himself (many of which his heirs inherited). John Richardson, in hisA Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, characterizes Zervos’s entries as “scanty and often unreliable,” but also calls the catalogue “a godsend to scholars, collectors, curators, dealers, students, not to mention fakers.”
Museum of Fine Arts in Boston
In the evaluation performed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston - (The Boston Report) - the examiner thought the painting was obviously a forgery because the date only differed in year - and that the month and day were the same as the original drawing..., but that statement is not correct. The drawing in the magazine has the date 10-8-55 not 10-3-55. And when multiple other experts examined the painting they found no traces of pencil or the lines that this critic had claimed were blatant.
Claude Picasso's statement was that “this was a fresh addition to his file”. Regardless of the fact that Claude Picasso had been sent the information several years before, if the painting was indeed a copy of a copy as Richardson suggested - one would figure that Claude would have seen something like this one before.
What if it is a forgery?
If we accept the art expert's opinions, then we need to re-examine the pilot's story.
A man (a distinguished military pilot, professor, aeronautical engineer - because that part is not in dispute) in his later part in life - during the late 1970’s, while realizing that he becoming ill and hoped to find a way to provide for his wife after he passed away - looked at a print of the famous Don Quixote and thought to himself that the painting was made for him.
He came to this conclusion because he could make out his wife’s name, his signature, and perhaps a few letters of his last name. He then said to himself - I was a pilot in the Spanish Civil War - Picasso was my fellow countryman. I met him once while over in Paris... and then he let his mind wonder till he came up with a story that fit. Right - his mom lived in Barcelona and I flew from Paris to Barcelona - I did him a favor. That’s it…
Now I traveled to Paris - no - traveled to the not well known town in South France where he lived - and met him and he dedicated this painting to me - (again… in the 1970’s - before Google…) as I was his hero, but now I must prove it to the world.
This story is starting to sound a little like Don Quixote...
But how can he prove it? He decides that he needs to find a canvas, one from a long long time ago, and find paint - paint that used only pigments consistent from that time period - specifically pigments that Picasso used during that time period. He needs to know the dimensions of the original drawing (but how did he know the dimensions? perhaps he traveled there and looked at it? oh - wait - St. Denis said it has been locked in their basement the whole time - which conflicts with Claude Picasso’s statement that it was on display…and the Museum didn't open until 1981...)
So he gets close to the dimensions - he has an old canvas - he found really old paint - now he paints it. He makes his last name more visible… and the date - it looks off in the prints - so he makes it look more proportionate - and changes it to say 1947 in order for his story to work.
But he needs a reason as to why he didn’t have photos of Picasso giving him the painting. So he remembers that Picasso had a fascination with Leica cameras - so he made up a story that he gave this camera to Picasso. But he decides that he might need more proof, so he takes a photo of the painting where it is obscured in the background and places it in one of the Kodak slide mats from maybe I need more proof. I know, I’ll take a photo of the painting - kind of obscured in the background - and I'll place it in one of the Kodak slide mats from 1954 - but leaves it in a box so that one day his son could find it and use it as proof. That should do it - and began his quest.
And then he carries out this quest relentlessly for 7 years until his death - but before dying tells his son that he must vindicate his name and prove its authenticity… and the son continues the struggle - taking the painting to get all of the scientific proof as verification and continues paying and paying to prove his father’s story for another 30 years.
This scenario is hard to accept. That’s a really - really - crazy story - if the pilot did what the experts would have you believe - wouldn’t the pilot actually be Don Quixote?
If the pilot actually had that much inside information about Picasso and access to all of the information surrounding the picture - wouldn't he have been aware that the 10-3-55 date was wrong? How do you go through that much trouble and be unaware of the date of the original publication in the magazine?
What if it is not a forgery?
Imagine that the pilot’s story is true.
The scientific data (given the pure impossibility of someone to have done all of the things necessary to have created a scenario in which it would be untrue…) shows the painting was done before the St. Denis drawing. The painting was done for the pilot - just as the pilot said - an emotional painting dedicated to a pilot who helped him during a devastating time - communicate with his beloved mother. A pilot who shows up at his home a month or so after the movie “Don Quixote de la Mancha” was released. An artist who drawing on the correlation of the current events and the past history with this pilot - creates a beautiful dedication to him and his wife.
Eight years later - a friend who works at a magazine - comes by Picasso’s home and says - hey - we are doing a piece on Don Quioxte’s 350th anniversary. Do you have something that you want to use for the magazine? Picasso tells him to go wait in the park while he puts together something. Then taking from the sketches that he had made from his painting done for the pilot - or Pierre having seen the sketches of the painting - asked him to reproduce it - Picasso did the now famous ink drawing and gave it to Mr. Daix.
Because Picasso had held such high regard for the pilot - as the pilot was endeared as a friend and countryman - a man that risked his own life to deliver a package to his mother - he felt it important to keep the names of his “Don Quioxte” and his dedication intact - as it was the only way he felt the image should be portrayed. But he waited to date the drawing in front of Mr. Daix and then sat with him while it dried… knowing that his dedication to a man he was forever grateful for would always be remembered. But just to be sure there was no confusion as to the drawing - before giving it to Mr. Daix he gave it the title - Don Quixote y Sancho - unlike the name he gave the pilot - simply Don Quixote de la Mancha - (the same name as the film that had just been released in 1947…)
Usually the simplest answers are the truth...