One painting that has always held a special place in Wellington is Picasso’s Girl before a mirror. Not the original, you understand, that's in the Museum of Modern Art, but the one on the mezzanine in Parsons’ bookshop on Lambton Quay. The copy, for that is what it is, was painted by English-born Roy Parsons who was Picasso obsessed. Stuck in a city, well a country really, that had no original works by his hero back in the early seventies, he took the obvious action and painted his own.
One of those paintings is still hanging in the mezzanine coffee bar in Massey House the Ernst Plischke designed building where the bookshop relocated in 1958. How passionate was Roy Parsons about Picasso? One of his sons recalls the time when the Picasso Estate finally moved its collections into Paris’s Picasso Museum in the mid-eighties. “He practically jumped on a plane the day he heard the news.”
Images: Top, Roy Parsons' copy of Girl before a mirror in the mezzanine coffee bar at Parsons bookshop. Bottom, Picasso’s portrait of Marie-Therese Walter known as Girl before a mirror 14 March 1932 on display at the Museum of Modern Art