Early Works

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 “La Concha”. 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 in Madrid, which was more prestigious, was another institution where he did not study for long. Canvases created by great masters like Velazquez, Goya and El Greco and exhibited in museums of the capital became teachers of the 16-year old artist.

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. Picador, 1889
Picador, 1889
Pablo Picasso. Pigeons, 1890
Pigeons, 1890
Pablo Picasso. Bullfight and Pigeons, 1890
Bullfight and Pigeons, 1890
Pablo Picasso. Woman Malaga, 1891
Woman Malaga, 1891
Pablo Picasso. Profile of human rights, 1892
Profile of human rights, 1892
Pablo Picasso. Study for a torso, 1892
Study for a torso, 1892
Pablo Picasso. House in the countryside, 1893
House in the countryside, 1893
Pablo Picasso. The Barefoot Girl. Detail, 1895
The Barefoot Girl. Detail, 1895
Pablo Picasso. Self-Portrait, 1896
Self-Portrait, 1896
Pablo Picasso. Portrait of the mother of the artist, 1896
Portrait of the mother of the artist, 1896
Pablo Picasso. First Communion, 1896
First Communion, 1896
Pablo Picasso. Science and Charity, 1897
Science and Charity, 1897
Pablo Picasso. Matador, 1897
Matador, 1897
Pablo Picasso. Lola, Picasso s Sister, 1899
Lola, Picasso s Sister, 1899
Pablo Picasso. A Spanish Couple in front of an Inn, 1900
A Spanish Couple in front of an Inn, 1900


All early works by years