Picasso Museum of Barcelona

Portrait of the Artist’s Father
Watercolour on paper
25.5 x 17.8 cm
Donated by the artist, 1970
MPB 110.331

The Work

José Ruiz Blasco (1838-1913) was a teacher at the School of Fine Art and a painter, as well as one of young Picasso’s preferred models until 1899. During this formative period, the relationship between father and son was very close, with his father encouraging his artistic vocation and overseeing the learning process.
In fact, the personality of his father left a great mark on Picasso. In 1943, he confessed to Brassaï that ‘every time I draw a man, I think, inadvertently, of my father (…) for me, man is Don José and it will be like this all my life.’

When he painted this portrait, Picasso was fifteen years old. As John Richardson points out: ‘The portraits Pablo produced of Don José are more than routine studies of a model. They show contradictory feelings such as a child's love, pride, pity and a mixture of guilt and redemption which any sensitive adolescent student feels for the beloved old teacher he surpasses.’ (in Picasso. A Biography, vol I, 1881-1906, p.82)

The Museum houses many portraits of the artist’s father: first drawings from Corunna in 1894-95 (MPB 111.419, 111.500R, 111.504, 111.508, 112.482); drawings from Malaga or Barcelona in 1895 (MPB 110.245, 111.181R, 111.187R, 111.188R); from Barcelona between 1895 and 96 (MPB 110.307, 111.127, 111.155, 111.160); portraits from Barcelona in 1896 and 97 (drawings MPB 111.048, 111.076, 111.102, 111.108, a watercolour in blue shades, MPB 110.281, and an oil painting, MPB 110.027) and drawings from 1898 and 1899 (MPB 110.026, 110.576, 110.726, 111.582R ), as well as many sketches and jottings.

His father was the model for the doctor figure in Science and Charity.

Other Portraits of his Father by Picasso

Portrait of the Artist’s Father
Unsigned and undated
Barcelona circa 1896
Oil on canvas
Donated by the artist, 1970
MPB 110.027

Portrait of the Artist’s Father
Unsigned and undated
Barcelona circa 1896
Blue watercolour on paper
Donated by the artist, 1970
MPB 110.281

The Artist’s Father
Unsigned and undated
Barcelona, 1896
Paintbrush and watercolour on paper
Donated by the artist in 1970
MPB 110.307


Room 1


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