Picasso Museum of Barcelona

The Guide to Picasso's Barcelona: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15

1. Passeig d’Isabel II, 4, ground floor

The Ruiz Picasso family's first lodgings in Barcelona

The Picasso family arrived in Barcelona by train on 21st September 1895 , when Pablo Ruiz Picasso was thirteen years old, and it seems that they first lived in a hostel very close to França station and right opposite the Fine Arts School (Escola de Llotja) where the father was to teach and Pablo to be a pupil.

Their first, short-term lodging was at 4, Passeig d’Isabel II on the ground floor in one of the blocks of flats called the Porxos d’en Xifré, as they were built by Josep Xifré, a shipowner from Arenys who had made his fortune in Cuba and was the first to introduce theosophy to Spain. They are neo-classical buildings with wide porches where, in the years of Picasso’s youth, the street level contained Tio Nel·lo’s horchateria (where they served a refreshing milk drink made from a nut called xufa), and the Café Cuyás - later to become Les Set Portes restaurant


2. Carrer de Cristina, 3 2n 2ª

The family home between the autumn of 1895 and the summer of 1896

The Picassos very soon moved to a larger, more comfortable flat on the second floor of 3, Carrer Cristina (on the corner with Llauder, 4, where the entrance was), which was in the same Xifré building but at the back. They lived there for the whole school year of 1895-1896.

This small crossroads between the port and the Pla de Palau still preserves a popular flavour of the port of Barcelona given its second-hand shops and especially due to the market held occasionally, where the lack of permanent shops or stalls creates a frisson of real, or not-so-real, contraband.


3. Carrer de la Mercè, 3, 2n 1ª

Apartment occupied by the family from Summer 1896 (building later destroyed)

In the summer of 1896, the Picassos moved to the nearby quarter of La Mercè, with its long and noble history, as clearly shown by the presence of the church dedicated to La Mercè, the patron saint of Barcelona. The streets here are narrower but there are a great many fine official buildings, grand houses and modernist buildings. The Picassos rented a flat on the second floor of 3, Carrer de la Mercè and stayed there after Pablo left for Paris. Whenever the artist returned to Barcelona for a visit of any length, as he did with Olga Khokhlova in 1917, he stayed once more in the family home. Unfortunately, the building, which was on the corner of the tiny Callejón de Louis Braille, was recently pulled down to make way for the much more convenient square in front of La Mercè church, so long in demand from local residents.


4. Carrer de la Plata

Where Picasso had his first studio, rented for him by father in 1896

The first studio was rented by his father in 1896, when Pablo was still 14 years old. The budding artist shared it with his friend Manuel Pallarès, whom he had met in the Fine Arts School and it is where he painted many of his works, the most important being Science and Charity (1897) now in the Museu Picasso de Barcelona. The workshop was in Carrer de la Plata (Silver Street), possibly so called because there had been a silversmiths’ there or because there had been a state treasury in one of the buildings, Casa Larrard.

There are also two opinions on the exact location of Picasso's studio. Traditionally and as many people remember it, it is believed to have been on the top floor of number 5, Carrer de la Plata. The building has a great deal of charm and seems a suitable place for an artist to have a studio. Later artists have had studios in the same building and still do. A commemorative plaque was placed on the façade some years ago and an art gallery was installed in the next building in reference to Picasso’s studio. However, others claim that his workshop was in the attic of number 4, in particular Josep Palau i Fabre.


5. Carrer dels Escudellers Blancs

Where Picasso occupied a studio for some months in 1899

Picasso took a new studio, given by the Cardona brothers in Carrer dels Escudellers Blancs, not far from the Plaça Reial that he used for a few months in 1899. It is not certain whether the studio was at number 1 or number 2 and perhaps he had a studio in each, since the Cardona family owned more than one flat in the street. This was the time when the young artist now began to feel right at home in Barcelona and attended the intellectual gatherings in the tavern called Els Quatre Gats.

On the same floor as Picasso had his studio, there was a workshop making women’s lingerie. Sabartés, his friend and personal secretary, tells us that «during his moments of leisure, Picasso liked to make the eyelets for corsets on the machines». It was not the only time he approached women in those bohemian times; Picasso's sexual awakening began at the brothels, such as the one in Carrer d'Avinyó which, years later, he would make immortal in one of his most renowned paintings, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.


6. Carrer de la Riera de Sant Joan, 17

Studio shared with Carles Casagemas in 1900

His next studio In 1900 was at 17, Riera de Sant Joan, a street disappeared completely when construction work started on the Via Laietana in 1907. Pablo shared the small flat with his friend, Carles Casagemas, and the story has it that, in order to hide the poverty of the bare rooms, they had both soon painted the whitewashed walls with bookshelves full of books, cupboards, laden tables, chairs, armchairs, a sideboard with fruit, flowers and coins scattered about, and what they dreamt of most, a pretty maid and an attentive manservant.

In Barcelona in May 1903, Picasso painted La Vie (Life), currently at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio. The Museu Picasso of Barcelona has the artist’s sketches of this decisive piece from his Blue period, where one can track the painter’s evolutionary process while producing this canvas. After his third trip to Paris in the winter 1903, Picasso returned once again to the studiohe had shared with Casagemas at 17 Riera de Sant Joan.


7. Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 10

Studio shared with Àngel Fernández de Soto and Josep Rocarol in 1902

After the first two trips to Paris, Picasso shared a new studio in 1902 with the sculptor Àngel Fernández de Soto and the painter Josep Rocarol, at 10 Carrer Nou de la Rambla (called Conde del Asalto at that time). The changeable light and the suffocating heat in summer made the room, which was at the top of the building and looked out onto the rooftops, unsuitable for painting. However, its location helped make up for these drawbacks, as it was a stone’s throw from the ever-busy Rambla and right next to the Edén Concert, one of the main variety halls of the moment, frequently attended by Picasso and his friends, and where he drew sketches of the cuplé singers. He painted the roof tiles and terraces of the old, run-down quarter from that studio, also several works from the blue period.

After his third trip to Paris in the winter 1903, Picasso returned once again to the studiohe had shared with Casagemas at 17 Riera de Sant Joan.


8. Carrer del Comerç, 28

Picasso's last studio in Barcelona (1904), lent him by Gargallo

The beginning of 1904, he took lodgings in what would be his last studio in Barcelona, at 28, Carrer del Comerç. The top floor of this building will go down in history for having housed three great artists almost at the same time. In fact, the sculptor Pau Gargallo and the painter Isidre Nonell each had a studio in this same building. Gargallo let Pablo Picasso use his studio until the artist went to Paris for good in April 1904.


9. Carrer del Consolat del Mar, Llotja de Barcelona

The Fine Arts School (Escola de Llotja) took up the top floor of the building

In 1895, Picasso entered the School of Fine arts (Escola de Llotja) in the neo-classical building reached from Carrer del Consolat del Mar. The Trade Commission created the Fine Arts School on the top floor, where many artists studied, both those from Catalonia and those who were temporarily living in Barcelona.

When the Picassos, father and son, joined the school, the former as a teacher of drawing and the latter as a 13-year-old pupil, the director was Antoni Caba. The teaching was eminently academic but Pablo gained mastery over the pencil and brush and, above all, met his first friends there. Visits can be made to the school, where there is a very interesting gallery displaying many works by academy painters, plus others who broke out of the academy’s narrow bounds.


10. Carrer de Montsió, 3

Els Quatre Gats, café and bar

Els Quatre Gats, at 3, Carrer Montsió, was the tavern founded by Pere Romeu, Ramon Casas, Santiago Rusiñol, Miquel Utrillo and others in 1897, in imitation of Rodolphe Salis’s Parisian cabaret, Le Chat Noir, for the purpose of holding gatherings for artists, as a concert and exhibition hall, and for puppet shows and shadow plays. The premises were on the ground floor of a fine building designed by Puig i Cadafalch and it advertised itself as a «gothic beer hall for those who love the North and an Andalusian courtyard for those who love the South». The bar itself was in the smaller room, with two large pictures by Casas in a prominent position and advertising posters, one of which was for the menu and was painted by Picasso. The exhibitions and concerts were held in the larger room.

The magazines Quatre Gats, Pèl & ploma and Forma were published there and Picasso’s first ever public exhibition was held there in February 1900. The bar closed in 1903 and it was later used by the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc. A few years ago, at number 5 on the same street, a bar and restaurant opened with the same name as that of the glorious tavern of artists.


11. Carrer de Petritxol, 5

Sala Parés

The Sala Parés in Carrer Petritxol, which at that time dealt in modernist art, put on an exhibition of a series of pastel drawings by Picasso jointly with Ramon Casas in 1901.


12. Plaça de l’Oli, 4

Building currently no longer standing, that housed El Guayaba, the workshop of Joan Vidal i Ventosa and regular meeting place for artists of the time

The Guayaba -Joan Vidal i Ventosa's studio and a meeting place for artists - was located at no. 4 Plaça de l’Oli. This premises came about due to the need of having a studio to work in and the restless zeal of a group of students. Thanks to his relationship and friendship with Joan Vidal i Ventosa, Pablo Ruiz Picasso was one of the studio's illustrious visitors. There is a graphic document from one of his visits that has been used a lot to illustrate Picasso's relationship with the city of Barcelona, which Palau i Fabre discusses in the following way when talking about the great painter's Catalan friends: 'We know that in the spring of 1906, Picasso came to Barcelona, before going to Gósol with Fernande Olivier, visiting the Guayaba [...] there is highly valuable evidence from this visit - the photograph having gone around the world wherever Vidal i Ventosa went.

The premises in the Plaça de l’Oli was later demolished when the area of La Ribera was remodelled due to the opening of the Via Laietana, the occupants moving to a premises at no. 17 Riera de Sant Joan, which was also torn down shortly after.


13. Plaça Nova, 5

Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya (College of Architects of Catalonia)

The friezes on the façade of the College of Architects of Catalonia at 5, Plaça Nova, were created by the Norwegian, Carl Nesjar, in 1960 from drawings to Picasso’s specific design. These friezes are: on the Carrer Capellans side, the Flag frieze -which recalls the Cors de Clavé (Clavé Choirs) the groups from the hermitage of Sant Medir and the “fauns” of Arrabassada and Les Planes; in the centre, opposite the Plaça Nova, the one about our traditional festivals -palms great and small, giants, folk dances-, and the Children’s frieze in Carrer dels Arcs, which is a hymn to the joy of life. There are other murals inside the building; one depicting Barcelona and one showing the typical Catalan dance called the sardana.


14. Carrer de Montcada, 15-23

Museu Picasso de Barcelona

To conclude and as a new starting point for a tour, there is the Museu Picasso itself, which occupies fivel buildings in the Carrer Montcada. It opened in the Aguilar palace in 1963, offering the general public a chance to see the private collection of Jaume Sabartés and the collection of Picasso’s work hold in the Art Museums of Barcelona. After the death of Sabartés, the exhibits were expanded with two important donations by Picasso himself: the first in 1968 was the Las Meninas series; the second was in 1970 and consisted of 921 works from the family collection, which meant the museum had to grow physically by annexing the palace of the Baron of Castellet. Several donations by Jacqueline Roque and Picasso’s heirs have enriched the museum’s collection, leading to the Meca palace being annexed in 1985. Finally, in 1999, two new buildings: the Casa Mauri and the Finestres palace, were restored and opened, in order to display the temporary exhibitions programmed by the Museum.

This Museum, a celebration of Picasso’s creativity and generosity to the city of his training years, with its paintings, drawings, sculptures, engravings, lithographs and books is more than a place to see Picasso as you journey around Barcelona, it is a place to see in Barcelona as you journey around Picasso.


15. Passeig de Colom, 22

The hotel Ranzini, where Olga Khokhlova stayd in 1917, occupying the lower floors of the building

The hotel Ranzini was located at 22 Passeig Colom and is where Olga Khokhlova -Picasso's future first wife-, stayed. Picasso stayed at his family's home at 3 Carrer de la Mercè, whilst Olga Khokhlova stayed with the 'Ballets Russes' troupe at the Ranzini boarding house nearby. The orchestra conductor Ernest Ansermet explained it in the following way to the magazine DU: 'In Autumn (October 1917) we went to present several shows in Barcelona and Madrid (...) here (in Barcelona) there was a crowd at the same hotel Olga and Picasso - still not married - came to every day. He would also often paint the view of the city -from my or Olga's balcony -, with the tall column erected in honour of Christopher Columbus'.