Between the painter and this residence (which became the Grimaldi Museum in 1925) was born a special bond. It was there that he had installed his workshop in 1946 and it is to the town of Antibes that he leaves 23 paintings and 44 drawings behind him. New rooms will be devoted to the works of the painter and on the 27th of December 1966, the town of Antibes pays tribute to Pablo Picasso: the Grimaldi castle becomes officially the Picasso museum, first museum devoted to the artist.
The Grimaldi castle was inhabited since 1385 by the famous Monégasque family which gave it its name. It was founded on the former acropolis of the Greek city of Antipolis, Roman castrum, home to the bishops of the Middle Ages (from 442 to 1385). The castle will become in turn, dwelling of the King’s governor, then town hall in 1792 and barracks from 1820 to 1924.
A key figure enters the scene in 1923: Romuald Dor de la Souchère, French, Greek and Latin professor in the Carnot College in Cannes, begins his archaeological research in the Antibes. On the 29th of March 1924, he creates the society: ‘Friends of the Antibes Museum’ which has the aim of founding a historical and archaeological museum and to make known the area’s past.
The castle of Grimaldi is bought by the town of Antibes in 1925 and becomes the Grimaldi museum. The first curator will be Romuald Dor de la Souchère. In September 1945, Pablo Picasso visits the museum Grimaldi and in 1946, Romuald Dor de la Souchère offers him part of the castle as a workshop.
The Spanish painter, draughtsman and sculptor will produce several works, drawings and paintings. Following his stay in 1946, he leaves as a token of appreciation to the Antibes: 23 paintings and 44 drawings of which the famous ones: La Joie de vivre, Satyre, Faune et centaure au trident, Le Gobeur d'oursins, La Femme aux oursins, Nature morte à la chouette et aux trois oursins or The Goat.
The Picasso room is officially inaugurated on the first floor of the castle Grimaldi on the 22nd of September 1947. The inauguration accompanied by a first presentation of the works of the Antibes. The exhibition organised on the 7th of September 1948 confirms the significant enrichment of the 78 ceramics carried out in Madoura de Vallauris workshop.
At the time of the inauguration of the exhibition: ‘Tapisseries Francaises’ on the 13th of September 1949, new rooms devoted to paintings, ceramics and drawings of Picasso are open to the public. On the 27th of December 1966, the town of Antibes pays once again tribute to Pablo Picasso. The Grimaldi castle officially becomes the Picasso museum, first museum devoted to the artist. Finally, in 1991, the settling inheritance of Jacqueline Picasso authorises a new enrichment of the Picasso collections.
The prints left by Nicolas de Stael during his stay at the Antibes from September 1954 to March 1955 are also exhibited at the museum which shelters its Antibes-based works. The modern art fought its way in the Picasso Museum. Thanks to a donation from the Foundation Hans Hartung and Anna-Eva Bergman in 2001, two rooms could be opened at the ground floor of the museum and offers a dip in the work of each one of these artists thanks to a permanent exhibition.
The collection of modern art which started in 1951 with Dor de la Souchère, grew richer starting from exceptional donations authorised by the artists. The greats currents in arts of the 20th and 21st centuries are represented by: Arman, Atlan, Balthus, Ben, Bioules, Bloch, Buraglio, Bury, Calder, Cane, Castellas, César, Chillida, Clavé, Combas, Corneille, Crotti, Debré, Dezeuze, Ernst, Gleizes, Goetz, Hantaï, Hartung, Jaccard, Klein, Leppien, Magnelli, Malaval, Mansouroff, Mathieu, Meurice, Modigliani, Music, Picabia, Pincemin, Raynaud, Raysse, Sarkis, Spoerri and Viallat.
Two other Picasso museums can also be found in Spain: the Museum of Malaga and the Museum of Barcelona.