Pablo Picasso

Early Works

Pablo with his sister Lola,
1889 Ignorant people often make remarks about avant-garde artists saying that they cannot paint and that is why they depict blocks and squares. Picasso can serve as an example to prove falseness and primitiveness of this statement. From a very young age he was able to portray a life model on paper with the highest resemblance. The talent lucky to be born into creative environment (the father of the brightest personality in the 20th century painting was a drawing teacher and decorator) developed in a flash. The boy had hardly learned to speak before he started drawing.

His first oil painting Picador (1889) was painted by Picasso at the age of eight and he kept it throughout his life. He drew all the time; a great number of sketches dedicated to bullfight (what Spaniard does not like bullfight!) as well as studies of local people’s life remained. Pablo’s father started to involve him in interior decorative painting where he had to paint pigeons’ legs. Then, it was his father who insisted on Pablo’s entering Barcelona Academy of Art. The 13-year old whiz kid accomplished an examination drawing of a naked model for a day while a month was allowed for its creation.

Even Picasso’s earliest works show that in academic art he feels quite at home. However, making studies of plaster models could not captivate the well-established young artist and he left the Academy. San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, which was more prestigious, was another institution where he did not study for long. Canvases created by great masters like Velázquez, Goya and El Greco and exhibited in museums of the capital became teachers of the 16-year old artist.

14 years old, 1896 The life around continues to be the theme of Picasso’s paintings: passers-by, fishermen, bathers, numerous neighbours, friends, his father looking like Don Quixote, mother and sister. His sister Lola appears in the genre picture First Communion (1896), his mother’s image is executed brilliantly in a portrait painted the same year. One of the artist’s first self-portraits was also created at that time.

When Picasso was 15 years old, he painted a big picture, Science and Charity (1897), which can be interpreted both as genre and symbolic painting. A doctor (whose figure was painted by Pablo from his father) is feeling the pulse of a woman lying in a bed, while on the other side, there is a nun who is holding a child and offering a glass of water. Thus, medical science and compassion are opposed to each other. At an exhibition in Madrid in 1897 this painting fell into disfavor among critics: the patient’s hand seemed insufficiently elaborated and unrealistic to them: they called it a glove. However, the implausibly long fingers of the sluggish hand were an anticipation of the future stylistics of the “Blue Period”.

Having achieved excellence in realistic representation when painting from life, Picasso managed to reject this way of painting which was archaic for him, as a truism. The young master’s attempts “to speak different languages of style” comprise his sister’s portrait, which brings to mind impressionist paintings. And the gallery of early works ends with such works as A Spanish Couple in Front of an Inn (1900). Bright splashes of color bring this picture closer to protofauvism, while distinct outlines are a tribute to the modernist style. That year Picasso visited Paris for the first time. It was Mecca for all creative people where modern art was being created out of the 'devil’s brew' of talents of all nations. In 1904 the artist moved to Paris to stay there forever.

Pablo Picasso. Naked woman sitting, 1899
Naked woman sitting, 1899
Pablo Picasso. The kiss, 1899
The kiss, 1899

All early works by years