Elsa Schiaparelli said that her favourite painting was Birds in a Cage by Pablo Picasso. It was one of the major pieces in her personal art collection.
She placed it on the frontispiece of the American edition of her autobiography, Shocking Life, with the following description: “There is a cage. Below it are some playing-cards on a green carpet. Inside the cage a poor, half-smothered white dove looks dejectedly at a brilliantly polished pink apple; outside the cage an angry black bird with flapping wings challenges the sky”.
Friends who knew well Elsa's dual nature felt that this picture could be its metaphoric portrait. This duality is evident in her autobiography, in which she oscillates between the first and the third person when referring to herself.
Pablo Picasso © Adagp, Paris 2015
Photo © Christie's Images/Bridgeman Images