The collections of the Picasso Museum reveal, to a large extent, the relations that the artist maintained with Barcelona and depict the key moments of this affinity. As a matter of fact, a large part of present collect comes from the donation that Picasso himself made in 1970 of all his early work.

Owing to this, the museum is very rich in regard to work from the formative periods in the life of the artist; we could say that it is practically exhaustive. Furthermore, the museum possesses an important representation of works from 1917, the year that Picasso met Olga Kokhlova and went to Rome with Diaguilev’s ballet company to prepare Parade. Afterwards, he would travel to Barcelona to introduce her to his family.

Therefore, that year Picasso spent a long period in Barcelona. A group of very important works bears witness to this stay; they mark the transition from Cubism to the reencounter with classicism, favoured by his journey to Italy. Some examples of these are Harlequin, Woman with Mantilla, Figure with Fruit Dish and Blanquita Suárez, excellent Cubist pieces, but with more concessions to polychromy and ornamental elements.

The collection is exhaustive up to the Blue Period, of which the museum has a priceless group of works. The end of this period coincides with Picasso’s departure to live indefinitely in Paris, in April 1904.

As can be appreciated, the collections in the Picasso Museum have an unquestionable Barcelonian character, and at the same time, have given a marked Picasso character to Barcelona.

1. Malaga
2. Corunna
3. Barcelona
4. Malaga: summers of 1896 and 1897
5. Madrid
6. Horta de Sant Joan
7. Barcelona: 1899-1900
8. Paris: 1900-1901
9. The Blue Period
10. The Rose Period
11. Barcelona: 1917
12. 1917-1957
13. Las Meninas
14. Picasso engraver
15. Picasso ceramist


MALAGA, 1881-1890

Picasso was born on 25 October 1881 in Malaga. The early years of Pablo Ruiz Picasso’s life took place in his hometown. Through his father, José Ruiz, he was introduced to the artistic ambience of the city that had had an important artistic re-emergence during the second half of the nineteenth century. The birth of the Liceo, and later, the San Telmo Academy of Applied Arts, encouraged the appearance of a Malaga school of painting. Afterwards, the arrival of the painters and teachers, Bernardo Ferrandis and Antonio Muñoz Degrain, was decisive in the flowering of a Malaga school dominated by colour and luminosity. Other outstanding members were José Moreno Carbonero and Joaquín Martínez de la Vega.

Pablo Picasso’s family circle was decisive in the awakening and the development of his artistic calling. The guidance of his father, José Ruiz Blasco, a teacher of drawing at the School of Fine Arts in Malaga and curator of the Municipal Museum, was essential in his childhood and adolescent years. The pencil drawings made in Malaga already showed the child’s capacity of observation and a very rare spontaneity of line for his age. The childhood drawings are a prelude to two aspects that the artist work would show in the course of later years: a marked academic side and a free and intuitive tendency.

CORUNNA, 1891-1895

For reasons of work, in October 1891, the Ruiz-Picasso family left Malaga to live in the Galician city. Pablo continued his secondary school studies at the Da Guarda Institute. His father gave drawing classes in the same building, at the School of Fine Arts, where Picasso enrolled the following year and began his formal academic training, which he would continue in later years.

Between 1890 and 1897, academic learning and the training of the young artist took place. During this period, the confidence of his mother, María Picasso López, and the encouragement of his father, José Ruiz Blasco, were determining factors. His father was the indisputable promoter of his artistic career and the mentor of his childhood and youth, as well as the one who motivated him to use drawing as a basic means of expression.

A group of drawings illustrate his academic activity; they are usually copies of plaster casts. At the same time, he worked on landscapes, people and places in his immediate surrounding, and he frequently used his family as models for his work.

The first pictures he painted in Corunna still showed a marked childishness in subject matter and composition. A substantial change took place at the beginning of 1893. The canvases and small panels done in oil paint at that time and in the following year bear witness to his technical progress, starting with an improvement in composition and to a better mastery of line, as well as a more mature use of colour.

BARCELONA 1895-1897

The Ruiz-Picasso family left Corunna once and for all in the summer of 1895 to settle down a short time later in Barcelona, the city where they took up their residence. Earlier, they had spent the summer holiday in Malaga. On 21 September, they arrived in Barcelona after a long voyage on a ship that sailed along the Mediterranean coast. Some small panels, full of light and colour, and showing a clear mastery of perspective, are reminders of this voyage.

In Barcelona, Pablo continues studying at La Llotja School of Fine Arts. A set of drawings and oil painting demonstrate his academic activity, dominated by life drawing classes and by the sculptures and paintings. At the same time, he was attracted to a range of urban scenes. These were from his immediate surroundings: the sea, the beach at Barceloneta, the park of Ciutadella, rooftops, and a few churches, all of which helped him to work in the open air and to escape from the rigidity of La Llotja. At that time, his father and the established world had a big influence on him. He was still too young to become captivated by the new and innovating currents that were taking shape in the city.

In 1896, academic exercises were combined with family portraits and landscapes on small panels that show how much he had learnt by his mastery of technical means and composition.

His father encouraged him to take part in official competitions. This was the reason why he painted the First Communion of his sister, Lola, an oil painting in a larger format than he normally used, which he worked on in the studio of his father’s friend, the teacher José Granelo. He presented the painting at the Third Exhibition of Fine Arts and Artistic Industries in 1896. The following year, he repeated the experience with an even more ambitious oil painting, Science and Charity, which he presented at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in Madrid, where he received an honourable mention. The subject that he painted situated him in the mainstream of the period. Picasso’s work became full of historical and religious themes, and he sometimes showed a marked philanthropic spirit as well as a great interest in scientific advances.


The Ruiz-Picasso family spent their summers in Malaga. In 1896, they rested for a few days at an estate in Llanes near the Malaga mountains, the property of Pablo’s aunt and uncle, the Blasco-Alarcóns. As a result of this stay in the country, an exhaustive account of the surroundings of Malaga exists through a group of oil paintings, most of them of them small and having a great descriptive freshness, which the young man achieved thanks to a vibrant and spontaneous brushstroke. The culmination is a larger oil painting, Paisatge muntanyenc (Mountain Landscape), preceded by preparatory studies. He worked on these paintings with an unrestrained, bold brushstroke, thick with pigments, along with an absence of line; he favoured a combination of brushstrokes of bright colours, mirroring a luminous environment. All together, it is evident that it was his first departure from mainstream art, and the need to affirm his own personality appeared in his work. We should remember that Picasso had begun some landscapes with luminous hues in Barcelona a little earlier. This, along with the tedium and the restrictions of academic teaching, were the determining factors for the predominance of landscapes as a subject in his work during this period.

Although Picasso mainly painted landscapes throughout the summer months, we should not forget that, at that time, he was painting the Portrait of Aunt Pepa, one of most important portraits in the formative years of the artist.


Picasso spends the academic year, 1897-1898, in Madrid. Encouraged by his family, he enriched his artistic training at the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, most likely advised by his father’s colleague and friend, the teacher Antonio Muñoz Degrain.

He enrolled in classes of drawing from antiquity, drapery and landscape, the latter taught by Muñoz Degrain himself, and he reinforced his artistic education by attending the life drawing class that Moreno Carbonero gave. He also frequented the Fine Arts Circle to draw from models. Everything pointed to Pablo becoming an outstanding artist in the Spanish artistic world. But the young man was bored with going to classes because he was convinced that he would not learn anything new, and he rejected the teaching methods that were in force.

Apart rom academic exercises during this stay in Madrid, the artistic activity of the young Picasso was focussed on scenes of everyday life and copying great masters of painting in the Prado Museum.

In June 1898, Picasso returned to Barcelona convalescing from scarlet fever. A short time later, he went to stay at Horta de Sant Joan, invited by his friend, Manuel Pallarès. For a few months -from the end of June 1898 to January 1899- he experienced the rustic environment of the place fully, and even managed to spend a few days in a small cave up in the mountains. The time he spent in Horta is so important that he mentioned it repeatedly throughout his life: “Everything I know, I learnt in Pallarès’ village”.

The work he carried out in this period consisted of a pleasing description of the countryside, its inhabitants and the landscape of the region. The paintings and drawings that he worked on in Horta are a point of reference in his artistic development because of their frank, spontaneous and luminous character. The paintings show a new use of colour and a great freedom of line, brushstroke and luminosity.

The youthful Picassos’s stay in Madrid marked his first serious step towards distancing himself from academic art, and he made a firm decision to search for new forms of artistic expression. At Horta de Sant Joan this attitude was heightened, and his formal rupture with the official art world became a firm stance.

BARCELONA, 1899-1900

In January 1899, Picasso returned to Barcelona after his stay in Horta de Sant Joan. It was at this time that he became a full member of the Catalan avant-garde. The meeting place, the heart of the Catalan literary and artistic world, was the well-known tavern, Els Quatre Gats, which had opened on 12 June 1897 on the Carrer de Montsió, thanks to the initiative of Miquel Utrillo, the collaboration of Rusiñol and the economic support of Casas and the businessmen, Girona and Ardèniz. The person in charge was Pere Romeu. The young Picasso’s fellow participants in the discussions and activities were Carles Casagemas, Jaume Sabartés, Ramon and Cinto Reventós, Mateu and Àngel Fernández de Soto, Joaquim Mir, Hermen Anglada Camarasa, Isidre Nonell, Ramon Pichot, and others.

This was the time Picasso left home and went to live in a studio he shared with the Cardona i Furró brothers.

The influence of Catalan Modernisme is quite obvious in the artist’s work. Nordic tendencies and a marked anti-realist air dominated the cultural outlook in the city. Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Wagner... were the idols of philosophers, writers, artists, musicians ... , and of the Catalan society in general at the end of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth.

Their writings were read in the magazines of the period, like Catalunya Artística, Pèl & Ploma and Joventut. Their music was played in all the opera seasons in the city.

Picasso’s 1899 and 1900 work was dominated by the human figure, especially by the portraits of his friends, which were shown in the exhibition room of Els Quatre Gats in February 1900, the first individual exhibition of the artist. Despite this, he did not stop painting street scenes or the urban landscapes that he liked so much; he introduced a subject that he would come back to in other stages of his life: landscapes seen from a window.

His open-minded spirit, eager for new experiences, meant that he could not help trying out the new means of graphic expression that were all the rage at the end of the nineteenth century: poster designing. The young man took part by preparing drawings for several poster competitions. In the summer of 1900, he also started to work on newspaper illustrations, which reached its high point the following winter in Madrid, when he created the journal Arte Joven with Francesc d’Assís Soler, where he was the artistic director of the first five issues.

PARIS, 1900 AND 1901

In the autumn of 1900, Picasso, accompanied by Casagemas, travelled to Paris for the first time. His work Last Moments had been chosen to form part of the Universal Exhibition that had opened on 14 April. This, and the fact that the French capital was the artistic Mecca at that time made him decide to go there and stay for a few months. Years later, Sabartés, Picasso’s friend and secretary, would say, “This idea of going to Paris was like an illness that was causing havoc among us”. The two young men found a place in Montmartre: a studio that had belonged to the painter, Isidre Nonell.

This stay enabled him to experience at first hand the European artistic avant-garde that he had heard so much about from the Catalan Modernistes, and which he had been able to enjoy through reproductions. This direct contact would soon bear fruit. Apart from the rich artistic scene in the city, he enjoyed everything with which he came into contact. Captivated by scenes on the street and by the nightlife, his work was full of passers-by, of lovers embracing on the boulevards, and of elegant men and women going in and out of places of entertainment. Scenes of Parisian life were abundant, and along with them came views of architecture or nature that then became a setting for human activity.

In December, the young men returned to Barcelona for Christmas, and afterwards, they travelled to Malaga to celebrate New Year’s Eve. A short time later, Picasso went to Madrid, where he stayed until the following spring. In February 1901, his friend Carles Casagemas committed suicide in Paris. In June, Picasso returned to Barcelona before leaving on his second trip to Paris. This time he was accompanied by Jaume Andreu Bonsoms.

In the French capital, Pere Mañach, his first art dealer, organised an exhibition for him and the Basque painter, Iturrino, at the Galerie Vollard.

His work from this period is characterised by the sharp division of the brushstroke and the exuberant colour. His new freedom in using colour gave life to a fresh artistic interpretation, very close to the work of the Fauvists, although Picasso never came to use the exaggerated colours that they did. The Fauvists coupled the feeling of deforming reality in a composition through colour, thus overcoming the fleeting effect of light that the Impressionists used by turning colour into an expressive medium in itself. Work done by Picasso in this period was markedly influenced by Toulouse-Lautrec, although it was not centred so much on the elegant design formed by lines as by the figures themselves, which held more interest for him. He painted in oil, applying a big, loose, individualised brushstroke, contrasting colours, which has been called “macrodivisionism”, and which gave his work the texture of a mosaic.


From the autumn of 1901 to the end of January 1904, Picasso’s work underwent a radical change in colour and subject matter, at the same time that the figures show some formal mutations that are characteristic of his first personal period: the Blue Period.

A series of personal, social and cultural factors in his milieu were a determining factor in his move from worldly subjects to subjects of a marked symbolic character. At that time, the artist was under the influence of the philosophic doctrines from the north of Europe, which were well known in the Catalonia of the Modernista period. Another determining factor was his friendship with the poet, Max Jacob. From him, he was introduced to the French symbolist literature of Baudelaire, Rimbaud and especially Verlaine. Picasso believed that art sprang from sadness and pain; it had a dramatic mission, and was a source of emotion, rather than pleasure. This, and the influence of the German Expressionists were decisive in his work. The suicide of his friend, Casagemas was another factor that would play an important role at the beginning of this period.

The change to this new style was not sudden; on the contrary, it came about gradually. He was immersed in his new style at the end of autumn in 1901 in Paris, and he continued working in this way during the following years, whether living in the French capital or in Barcelona.

There are drawings of great expressiveness from the Blue Period that supplant the quick spontaneous sketches of former times: faces marked by poignant grief, lengthened figures in the El Greco manner, despondent figures weighed down by their own misfortune, starving men and women with passive, apathetic expressions, often in the midst of large empty spaces. This Picasso universe is dominated by one colour: blue, a colour having psychological implications, and which impregnates all his canvases, and is introduced into some drawings. Even the portraits of his friends or urban landscapes do not escape the narcotising effect of blue.


Picasso’s pictorial universe took another substantial turn in 1905. Like the earlier period, it came about gradually. Picasso’s new figures are circus acrobats and other circus performers.

In this period, Picasso lived in the Parisian quarter of Montmartre. The Medrano circus set up nearby was a place he frequented with his Catalan friends: Ricard Canals, Manolo Hugué and the poets Max Jacob, André Salmon and Guillaume Apollinaire. The entertainment world had interested him since he was very young. The circus as a theme was part of a strong artistic tradition, inherited from Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec, although Picasso was bolder than his admired predecessors had been.

As figures in his painting, women become ever present. In a group or alone, they are the centre of the composition of a good part of the drawings and oil paintings done in this period, which is dominated by pinkish or iridescent colours. The figures have lost the psychological burdens that they used to be weighed down with and the scenes are almost set decorations that allow the newcomers to be shown in movement. Their ‘incorporeal’ bodies seem freer, more delicate, even though they are standing still.

The Portrait of Señora Canals is a magnificent example from this period. Picasso made good use of his friend, the painter and engraver Ricard Canals, who had done an oil painting of a box at the bullring in which his wife, Benedetta Bianco and Fernande Olivier, Picasso’s companion, were seated. Picasso profited by his friend’s work in order to paint the portrait of the beautiful Roman, a portrait dominated by the sweet and melancholy atmosphere typical of his work during this period.


The process of searching for new ways of expression in the plastic arts, begun by Picasso in 1906, would result in a change from a perceptive method to a conceptual one.

The new artistic experiences that he had tackled before his stay in Gósol in the summer of 1906 bore fruit in this hamlet in the Alt Berguedà with its bare landscapes and ochre and grey soil.

The influence of Cézanne and Ingres, Iberian art and art from Africa merge in Picasso’s work, reinforcing the simplification of shapes and monumentality, and by eliminating what is not indispensable. He then began a process of simplifying, geometrizing and schematising the shapes, in the predominant reddish-ochre tones. The objectivity, the serenity and the equilibrium of his work set the foundations for his immediate artistic future. The process begun at Gósol continued with Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and was consolidated with Cubism.

Cubism was a new artistic form that Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque invented in 1908 and practised intensely until the First World War. This new style brought the artistic postulates that had dominated the art world since the Renaissance into question and set the foundations of a new artistic practice that would revolutionise the artistic world in our century. Between 1909 i 1912, what is known as Analytic Cubism was developed. This was based on the juxtaposition of light and dark planes, the fragmentation of images and the extremely subdued colours of ochre, beige, grey and brown. From 1910 on, the geometric structures were so hermetic that they reached a point where they became almost abstract. The artists then put in hints to help the viewer interpret their work. The introduction of papier collé in 1912 marked a new direction in this artistic movement. At that time, Braque and Picasso worked on their compositions creating objects by grouping elements to facilitate their interpretation. Between 1912 and 1914, they introduced other material onto the canvas, which provided new textures. This Cubism was totally different from, and at the same time, a consequence of the former, and is known as Synthetic Cubism. Later, Cubism was enriched by new, more aesthetic than conceptual contributions, by reincorporating the colour that was missing during the years of chromatic austerity.

In 1917, Picasso spent time in Barcelona. A few months before, he had begun to work with Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes along with the poet, Jean Cocteau, who were in Rome then to prepare the ballet Parade. There he met Olga, one of the Russian ballet dancers who was a member of the troupe and to whom he would marry the following year. The company stayed in the Ranzini pension, on the Passeig de Colom, near to Picasso’s home. The Picasso Museum possesses a group of works from that time which shows the variety of styles that the artist then painted in.

His work from this period is rich and varied. He combined the search for new sources of inspiration with experiments in new methods of painting. This is a time of transition in which he worked in several stylistic procedures as a means of investigating new ways of expression: along with a series of Cubist work -a late Cubism in which the shapes have softened and colour has reappeared- he painted Harlequin,a clear exponent of his return to the classic manner that he had used some time before. Expressionism also made an appearance in this period of great creative intensity with Gored Horse, a clear forerunner of Guernica. Another work, Woman with Mantilla, shows his mastery of the divisionist technique.


The museum has few paintings and drawings from this period.

Between 1924 and 1925 he continued his investigation with still lifes, which show a growing interest in abstraction. At this time, the surrealists decided on a renovation of aesthetics, in which the world of dreams and the subconscious mind had a primary role. Although Picasso was not a member of this group, he played an important part in encouraging this movement.

During the 1940s, he kept on painting still lifes, but in comparison with the ductile lines of the 1920s, they present an acute geometric structure and are very strident in colour.

Sabartés was a privileged witness to the artistic development of Picasso. As his friend and his personal secretary from 1935 until his death in 1968, he experienced Picasso’s creative activity -which always had a strong autobiographical component- intensely. Thus, it is not strange that the faithful and discreet friend was a motif in some of his work. Picasso made a painting and some drawings of him where he is disguised in very unlikely ways: as a gentleman of the Spanish Golden Age, as monk or a faun.


Between August and December 1957, Picasso analyses Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour) by Velázquez in depth.

From the time of his adolescence, Picasso adored Velázquez, whom he copied at the Prado Museum. He had then shown interest in Las Meninas, an unequivocal masterpiece that has been defined as a veritable theology of painting. The painting/mirror, painting/trompe d’oeil, and the playing with reflections, encompassed all the ingredients to fascinate a Picasso who was becoming a painter of painting. For years he felt a crucial need to confront the work of other artists, and he considered that the painting of his admired predecessors was a motif to paint like any other subject. This is the reason why he devoted himself voraciously to analysing and interpreting the work of artists like Grünewald, El Greco, Delacroix, Courbet, Manet.... and Velázquez.

Between 1954 and 1962 he seemed to be possessed by a frenetic desire to scrutinise their work, an activity that would lead him to create a veritable laboratory in order to study and interpret three masterpieces: Algerian Women at Home by Delacroix, Las Meninas by Velázquez and Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (Luncheon on the Grass) by Manet, which caused an unprecedented development in the interpretation of the plastic arts. Between August and December in 1957, he shut himself in the studio of his house, La Californie near Cannes, to face the challenge of Las Meninas. One unique piece of work is the origin of fifty-eight oil paintings: forty-four inspired in the model, nine little pigeons, three landscapes and two free interpretations. A whole series in which he plays with exterior and pictorial reality, art and life, to include views from the exterior into the series of paintings. At that time, Picasso was not trying to paint a unique piece, a masterpiece. What he really wanted was to systemise a group of canvases that had a common theme. Each piece of work is a link in the whole chain and whole is the main protagonist. The artist himself said that what he was really interested in was the movement of painting, the dramatic force of one approach or another, even though this force did not appear until he had finished them all. He was attracted more to the development of his thinking than the thoughts in themselves

These paintings served to make of an exhaustive study of form, rhythm, colour and movement. An imaginative game without limits, in which the figures were metamorphosed without varying the perceived space, volume and original light in any way.

He began the depiction on a large canvas of the group in a grisaille, which repeated the composition of the original, although he changed the vertical format for the horizontal and modified the large closed windows of Velázquez’ work by having them wide open, since Picasso considered that light was the most important thing.

Las Meninas is a big interior scene: a portrait of a studio, of a spacious room with large windows -surely the one in Alcàsser in Madrid, where the artist from Seville worked. Picasso captured -as did Velázquez- the atmosphere and the naturalness of the scene taking place before him in the spacious palace chamber with sublime perfection. He always maintained the attitude of the master of the Spanish Golden Age, which unites the immediate truth of the unexpected visit with intellectual mystery.

The characters do not vary. Picasso even keeps the two main trios: Velázquez, Doña Agustina de Sarmiento, Doña Margarita; Doña Isabel de Velasco, Maribárbola and Nicolasito Pertusato, he also reproduces the shape of the seated dog. He keeps the looking-glass that he recreates in other paraphrases: the optical and emblematic values that were used to advantage as much by Velázquez as by painters from the Netherlands. The big difference between Velázquez’ painting and Picasso’s is in its aesthetics.


The Picasso Museum in Barcelona possesses a relevant collection of engravings and lithographs by the artist, consisting of some 1,500 prints.

Some are from a donation by Jaume Sabartés [click here for a brief biography], one of the people responsible for the existence of our museum. Picasso himself donated an important part of the collection when he paid tribute to Sabartés at the time of the latter’s death, and promised to donate a print of every engraving he made from then to the end of his life. The rest of the engravings are donations from other benefactors and work that the museum has acquired over the years.

The pieces that make up the collection are also a vivid testimony to the close relationship of the artist with printers as important as Eugène Delâtre, Louis Fort, Roger Lacourière, Aldo and Piero Crommelyck, Mourlot and Arnéra. He established rewarding working relations with each of them. The dialogue between engraver and printer resulted in one of the most important legacies in the history of graphic arts.

Picasso’s first foray into this field took place in 1899, when he made an engraving of a picador on a metal sheet. We do not know whether it was his inexperience or his intention for the man holding the lance to be left-handed, the reason that the title is El zurdo, or the left-handed man. Whatever the reason, the important thing is that the perseverance of the creative genius of Picasso made him keep on improving his engravings until he became one of the great engravers in the history of art.

The museum collection of engravings starts with The Frugal Meal (1904), which would mark the real beginning of his activity in this field. It is an etching that the artist made in Paris, assisted by the Catalan painter and engraver, Ricard Canals. As much for its subject matter as for its aesthetics, it is included in his Blue Period.

From this time until his death, Picasso explored the different engraving techniques with voracity: wood engraving, etching, aquatint, dry-point, lithography, silkscreen printing, etc.

There are four etchings from the Cubist period made in 1911 in Cadaqués to illustrate Saint Matorel written in 1910 by the poet, Max Jacob, which was published by his art dealer D.H. Kahnweiler and printed by Delâtre.

During the 1920s, the subject matter and the aesthetics of his engravings run parallel to his paintings. The museum collection includes groups of dry-point prints and etchings that have varied themes: maternity, portraits of Olga, still lifes, bathers, heads of men and women...

In 1931, the Swiss publisher, Albert Skira, published The Metamorphoses by Ovid with the printer, Louis Fort, illustrated with 30 etchings, of which the museum has one that Salvador Dalí donated in 1963.

Another outstanding series of prints was compiled and published by his art dealer, Ambroise Vollard, in 1939, and known as the Suite Vollard. It is a set of 100 works, basically etchings, dry-points, and aquatints. The Picasso Museum has around thirty of them that he made between 1930 and 1937.

The Minotaur is one of the major figures in the SuiteVollard and one of Picasso’s most outstanding engravings, another The Minotauromachy, is one of the best in the twentieth century.

On 8 January 1937, Picasso made two etchings, Sueño (Dream) and Mentira de Franco (Franco's Lie), to collect money for the Spanish Republic. By means of a series of vignettes, he tells the story of the exploits of an evil character having a grotesque aspect. A series of crying women follows, like the figure in one of the vignettes in one of the etchings, that depicts her enormous grief for the magnitude of the tragedy.

After the Second World War, lithography was the technique used most by Picasso for a time. The museum collection exhibits a variety of subjects that interested him during these years. However, the most emblematic of the figures in this period of pacification was the dove, which became the main figure in some of these lithographs. We are reminded of the one chosen by the poet, Aragon, for the poster of the first Peace Conference that was held in Paris in 1949.

At that time, he also undertook an intense activity as a book illustrator. There is a good selection of these in the museum: Deux contes (1947), by Ramon Reventós; Vingt poèmes (1948), by Luís de Góngora y Argote; À haute flamme (1955), by Tristan Tzara; Dans l’atelier de Picasso (1957) and Les Menines et la vie (1958), by Jaume Sabartés; Sable mouvant (1966), by Pierre Reverdy; El entierro del conde Orgaz (1969), by Pablo Picasso. Apart from the prints, the museum has the cancelled copper plates and a copy of the book by Picasso.

Picasso worked intensely on linocuts in the years from 1954 to 1964. He met the printer Arnéra in Vallauris, with whom he began fruitful conversations that resulted in the making and printing of 200 linocuts; seventy of them are displayed in the museum.

Between 1957 and 1959, he made some on the art of bullfighting: a set of 27 aquatints to illustrate the book La Tauromaquia o Arte de torear (Tauromachy or the Art of Bullfighting) by José Delgado, known by the name of Pepe Illo. The museum has the prints made from the cancelled plates, as well as the cancelled plates without the text.

The last years in the life of the artist are notable for two numerous sets of engravings. These are the sets of 347 and 156 engravings, which are the thematic and iconographic culmination of his creative years. The first set was done between 16 March and 5 October 1968, and he presented an entire print run to the museum between December 1968 and September 1971. The second set was printed by the Crommelynck brothers. The Picasso family donated it in 1989 through the Louise Leiris Gallery (one print is missing). Along with this, his family also donated two aquatints: the 1949 Venus i Cupido segons Cranach el Jove (Venus and Cupid According to Cranach the Younger) and the Portrait of Angela Rosengart (1966).

In 1983, Picasso’s heirs and Louise Leiris presented the city of Barcelona with 117 prints from his period in the classic manner, the period of his link with surrealism and his Mediterranean period, thus respecting the wishes of the artist. It is a beautiful group through which one can see the great variety of techniques that he mastered: etching, aquatint, mezzotint, dry-point, lithography and the use of the burin.


Picasso was introduced to the world of ceramics by chance. In the summer of 1944, he and his companion Françoise Gilot went to stay in Golfe-Juan, on the Côte d'Azur. They went on an outing one day to the village of Vallauris, where they met the Ramiés, a married couple who were the owners of the prestigious Madoura pottery workshop. The potters invited them to visit their workshop. Picasso modelled a few pieces and became captivated by this technique that is so rooted in the Mediterranean culture. The following year, he returned with some ideas to put into practice. This was the beginning of an adventure that lasted until the end of his life and left a profuse collection of ceramics, bearing witness to his passion for this art..

Suzanne Ramié, an expert ceramist, introduced him to this world. She taught him to work with the white Vallauris clay. She taught him how to use the manufactured enamels that already existed at that time, and to fire the pieces in electric kilns at a temperature of 1,100º. Helped by potters who prepared the clay for him, and by pottery painters who helped him with the enamel, he worked on his freely-drawn individual designs on numerous pieces as uninhibited as ever: flat pieces, pitchers, bottles, small earthenware jars, bowls, tiles... In a few cases, he was even bold enough to manipulate the pieces, distorting them to increase their expressiveness and to change their equilibrium. He often adapted the decoration to a shape, but at other times, he did not shy away from changing a shape to fit the motifs. His subjects were the usual ones: the mythological world of fauns and satyrs, animals, –especially doves and goats, bullfighting, human figures... Picasso distanced himself from the decorative tradition in ceramics, and he created his own tradition, as he did in painting.