The biggest Picasso in the World

The backdrop for the 1924 Ballets Russes production of Le Train Bleu measures 10.4 by 11.7 metres. Signed by Picasso, it is the centrepiece of the V&A's new Diaghilev show opening on 25 Sep

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This film shows the two week long process of erecting Picasso's giant backdrop for Le Train Bleu in the V&A Exhibition Gallery with the help of a scaffolding tower, five riggers pulling it up and ten museum staff unrolling it.

The giant painting was made by scene painter Prince Alexandre Shervashidze who scaled up Picasso's 1922 painting 'Deux Femmes courant sur La Plage' for the Ballet Russes production of Le Train Bleu in 1924.


Picasso was  delighted with the result and signed the cloth and dedicated it to his friend Diaghilev. Its great size - more than half the size again of Guernica - means that it has only rarely emerged into the world since its sensational debut in 1924. In between performances, it was folded up (hence its stripes) and remained out of sight from 1939 until 1968 when it was bought for the nation for £69,000 by the Theatre Museum, now part of the V&A.