- Associated Press - Thursday, October 4, 2012

BOSTON (AP) - A Picasso painting the famous artist created in denouncing war has come to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis.

Caroline Kennedy unveiled the “Rape of the Sabine Women” on Thursday, on loan through Jan. 6 from the Museum of Fine Arts. She said it shows the fear and uncertainty of the time.

“The Cuban missile crisis was really the most dangerous time in my father’s presidency, and there really was a risk that the United States and the Soviet Union might go to war,” she said. “I think there’s a lot that current leaders can learn from (it).”

She called the 1962 crisis over Soviet missiles in Cuba and subsequent ease of tensions her father’s “greatest challenge.”


The painting, a 6-foot-by-4-foot vertical oil on canvas, depicts in bold colors two armed men with spear and sword raised toward each other, standing over a woman and wailing child. Picasso started the work soon after the 13-day crisis, referencing a fabled abduction of Sabine women by ancient Romans.

Legend has it, Rome faced a shortage of marriageable women after it was founded or perhaps sought an alliance with a nearby warlike tribe, the Sabines. Roman leaders invited the Sabines to a feast, only to capture dozens to hundreds of Sabine virgins. The Sabines later tried to rescue the women, who reminded them the Romans were now the men’s relatives by marriage and brokered a truce.