With the Dove of Peace Picasso created an extraordinarily powerful and lasting political symbol, adopted by campaigners for peace, liberation and equality around the globe. Doves also had a highly personal significance for Picasso, going back to childhood memories of his father painting the doves that were kept in the family home. Doves were a frequent presence in Picasso’s homes and studios in Paris and in the south of France.
In 1949, the poet and editor Louis Aragon visited Picasso’s studio to choose an image for the poster for the inaugural World Peace Congress in Paris in 1949. Aragon chose Picasso’s lithograph of a fan-tailed pigeon immediately recognising the value of the image of the dove as a symbol of the Peace Movement. Picasso’s daughter was born on the eve of the Paris Peace Congress and he poignantly named her Paloma, the Spanish word for dove. His use of the dove image is closely associated with the relationship between peace and the suffering of women and children in all wars that was a feature of many of his works.
Between 1945 and his death, Picasso produced many benefit editions, posters, prints, drawings and badges featuring the Dove of Peace. Picasso provided new variations of the peace doves for the posters for each of the peace congresses held in Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Vienna, Rome and Moscow. He worked unstintingly for L’Humanité, the French Communist Party newspaper, for Aragon’s literary paper, Les Lettres françaises and for the Communist paper Le Patriote de Nice et du Sud-Est.