Picasso Museum of Barcelona

Motherhood
Signed Picasso and dated 1903 in the top right-hand corner
Barcelona, 1903
Pastel and charcoal on paper
46 x 40 cm
Plandiura acquisition, 1932
MPB 4.269

The Work

Maternity is a frequent theme in the artist’s work between 1901 and 1905. The influences of French painter and theorist Maurice Denis and the painter Puvis de Chavannes are still present, being widely seen in magazines in Barcelona at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Picasso’s maternity scenes from this time, as well the other figures from the Blue Period, reveal the heavy personal, social and psychological burden of the characters.

The flesh of the figures in Motherhood once again humanises, with the technical skill showing great virtuosity, especially as it achieves excellent luminosity thanks to the use of white pastel touches. This live flesh contrasts with the expressionless faces, where the striking gaze of the black round eyes charged with the enveloping indifference and resignation of the marginal world jump out.
With her disproportionately large hand – fruit of an El Greco affectation present in some of his figures – the mother shields her child in protection from the harsh winter cold. The museum houses a crayon drawing of the small child (MPB 110.527).

On the back of Motherhood there is an unsigned undated charcoal landscape sketch (MPB 4269R).

Bibliography

Blunt, Anthony, Pool, Phoebe, Picasso, The Formative Years: A Study of His Sources. London, Studio Books, 1962, no. 92, s. p.
Daix, Pierre i Boudaille, Georges, Picasso 1900-1906: catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint. 2nd ed. Neuchâtel, Ides et Calendes, 1988, no. IX-7, p. 221
Museu Picasso (Barcelona), Museu Picasso, catàleg de pintura i dibuix. Barcelona, Ajuntament de Barcelona, 1984, p. 650, 749
Palau i Fabre, Josep, Picasso vivent: 1881-1907. Barcelona, Polígrafa, 1980, no. 842, p. 329, 540
Zervos, Christian, Pablo Picasso: vol. I, œuvres de 1895 à 1906. Paris, Cahiers d'art, 1932, no.169, p. 79

Location

Room 8