As a result of the collaboration with the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Nagoya (Japan), from September 8th to December 14th, we are presenting in our galleries the work Woman in blue shawl, accompanied by the works from the Blue Period of our collection.
Pablo Picasso. Woman in blue shawl. Barcelona, 1902. Oil on canvas. 60.3 x 52.4 cm. ID: F0198700001000. Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Japó © Successió Pablo Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid 2015
Although it is not dated, we can place this painting within the group of paintings produced by Picasso in Barcelona between January and October 1902, a series that confirms the stylistic change that he had begun some months before in Paris. Being able to count on this work for three months is a reason for joy and satisfaction for the museum, given that the female figure, along with the urban landscapes and portraits of friends, represents one of the most important themes of those which were developed in our city during these years.
Unpacking the work Woman in blue shwal
At the end of 1901 Picasso had undertaken a change in his palette. Abandoning the exuberant polychrome of the first half of the year, he inclined towards the almost monochromatic preponderance of blue, as well as a gradual iconographical change, and the ladies of the night and the absinthe drinkers became women, either stunned and shrunken or overwhelmed by motherhood. In this way the women of the prison of Saint-Lazàre, isolated or in groups, wearing Phrygian caps or wrapped in shawls, would become the protagonists in his new compositions, characterized by their solemnity and the lack of anecdotic references in the background. On very few occasions were they really portraits, but rather prototypes of disadvantaged women or marginalized from society. This change of style meant a distancing from his dealer Pere Mañach and led to his return to Catalunya, where, according to Richardson, the Blue Period truly began.
Malén Gual, curator of the collection, checking the work before installing it
On arriving in Barcelona, Picasso settled down, together with Àngel Fernández de Soto, in a studio in the street of Carrer Nou de la Rambla, and from its roof terrace he would produce the oil painting Barcelona Rooftops (MPB110.020). Following the trend that he began in Paris, the artist was inspired by the personages who lived in the neighbourhood and the main leitmotifs were women with scarves or shawls, women standing, bent over or with their backs turned. Although the repertoire of topics shows a systematic continuity, there is, in the works of this Barcelona period, a subtle stylistic change: the paintings reflect the inspiration of Spanish art, especially of the religious iconography, such as motherhood or beggars-philosophers that had been the basis of medieval painting and from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as showing a formal similitude to the paintings the Catalan artist (and friend) Isidre Nonell was doing in the same period. The backgrounds were more fluid and drawn and the colour of blue was more intense, due to the different luminosity between the two cities.
Installing the work at the gallery 8 of the collection
Woman in blue shawl belongs to the first sub-group of works, the one with scarves or shawls, produced, according to various authors, during the first months of 1902. The face, closed and tragic, reminds us of the primitivism of the Gothic virgins and the bent back strengthens the impression of burden and deep sadness.
This work had always been in the personal collection of the artist and, when Kunsthaus of Zurich organised the first exhibition of Picasso in a museum, in 1932, the artist selected it to form part of the exhibition, in which La Vie and Barcelona Rooftops (MPB112.943) were also exhibited, the latter currently in the collection of the museum.
Curator of the collection
Photos of the installation