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During seasons one and two of Bewitched, a painting entitled "The Old Guitar Player" by Pablo Picasso hung over the Stephen's living room fireplace. This work of art was painted by Picasso in both Paris, France and Barcelona, Spain during 1903-1904 and was originally entitled "Vieux Guitariste Aveugle", which translates from French into "Old Blind Guitarist". The painting is also known by the name "The Old Guitarist". This period of Picasso's career is known as his "Blue Period" (1901-1904), typified by the somber, blue-toned paintings he created which reflected his mood during this era. It has also been speculated that Picasso was so poor during this time that all he could afford was blue paint. The paintings from Picasso's "Blue Period" usually depict beggars, prostitutes, harlequins, acrobats and artists, most of whom are shabbily dressed and/or appear to be introspective or unhappy. After struggling as an artist in Paris, Picasso became even more depressed by the 1901 suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas and the death of his father. Dejected, he returned to Madrid in 1904 after receiving 200 francs for the train fare from a wealthy patron, Madame Besnard, in exchange for his painting "Mere et fils sur le Rivage". Picasso had a very difficult time selling his paintings during these years, but modern art aficionados now consider his works from The Blue Period among his most sought after. "The Old Guitar Player" is believed by many to be Picasso's most well-known work from this period. The painting currently resides in the collection of The Art Institute of Chicago.
"The Old Guitar Player" is believed to depict Senor Sebastian Mazzarella, a blind artist who became Picasso's mentor during the early part of his career in Madrid. It's of interest to note that a vague image of a woman's face and legs can be seen when the painting is viewed up close, indicating that Picasso painted "The Old Guitar Player" over top of an earlier, unfinished painting.
American poet Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) was inspired to write the following lines after viewing "The Old Guitar Player" in his poem “The Man With the Blue Guitar”:
The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.
They said, “You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.”
The man replied, “Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.”
And they said then, “But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,
A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are.”
Picasso created "The Old Guitar Player" with the desire that it be displayed vertically, but the Bewitched set decorator hung it over the fireplace horizontally, which was clearly in opposition to the artist's intentions.
One can only assume that this was purely an aesthetic preference based on the position of the fireplace, and it can indeed be argued that the painting did look somewhat more "conventional" (in generalized modern decorating terms) hung in this manner. But, as with everything relating to Picasso, the word "conventional" was not part of his vocabulary and is perhaps best avoided when approaching his work from any perspective. In order to explain the unusual hanging of "The Old Guitar Player" on Bewitched, producer Danny Arnold answered a November, 1964 Los Angeles Times television article question by explaining that: "the set wall was not high enough to hang the picture properly, so it was hung on its side".