On display at the New-York Historical Society since 2015 is a masterpiece by Pablo Picasso – the painted theater curtain for the ballet Le Tricorne (1919). It is the first work by Picasso, and one with great wall power and a New York history, to enter New-York Historical's collection.
Pablo Picasso painted the stage curtain for the two-act ballet The Three-Cornered Hat (El sombrero de tres picos or Le tricorne). The ballet and curtain were commissioned by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev for his avant-garde, Paris-based Ballets Russes, the most influential ballet company of the twentieth-century. The ballet was choreographed by Léonide Massine with music by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. It premiered on July 22, 1919, at the Alhambra Theatre in London with sets, costume designs, and the monumental stage curtain created by Picasso. Picasso biographer John Richardson once called “Le Tricorne” the artist’s “supreme theatrical achievement.” The production, which was conceived by Diaghilev and Massine during a trip to Spain, was enhanced by its many Spanish collaborators, including Picasso who also designed the costumes and set for the ballet.