Since last May 26, the Museu Picasso has the only known preparatory sketch for the Las Meninas series, which reveals how Pablo Picasso conceived and addressed that great work. He made sketch the very day before painting the first canvas in the series.
Thanks to the generosity of Catherine Hutin, the daughter of Jacqueline Picasso, the museum now has the only known sketch of Las Meninas. Catherine is following in her mother’s footsteps in maintaining Pablo Picasso’s close ties with the city of Barcelona.
We know that Picasso shut himself in the studio at La Californie, his villa near Cannes, from 16 August to 30 December 1957 to work on the series Las Meninas, one of the most in-depth analyses ever made of the great painting by Velázquez. We shall very soon be privileged to contemplate the Picasso canvas (been on temporary loan to the National Gallery for the exhibition Picasso.Challenging the Past), dated August 17, 1957, together with the sketch, and delight once more in the artist’s greatness.
The sketch, done in pencil, with very simple, almost cartoonish lines, is a perfect preparatory study: the diagonals that mark the perspective of the figures and objects, the definition of light and shade, the profiles of the personages… The overall composition s very close indeed to that of the completed painting.
“The importance of the tecently discovered sketch is that it readjusts the vision we have had up until now of Picasso’s painting“, in the words of the museum’s director, Pepe Serra. “Though sketches of other works had been found, there was none of Las Meninas. We didn’t even know if he had made any”. This rethinking of the way the artist worked “helps us to understand Picasso’s creative processes, and will enable us to look at and see his work in a different light”, said the grateful and contented diretor.
As was only to be expected, the presentation of the sketch was attended by all those to ought to have been there: for Picasso, for art and for Barcelona. Who better than Picasso to bring together, among others, the mayor of Barcelona Jordi Hereu, former mayor Narcís Serra and former mayor and former president of Catalonia Pasqual Maragall, the latter two close friends of Jacqueline Picasso and her daughter Catherine, to welcome the latest addition to the museum’s holdings?
A delighted Catherine Hutin embraces Jordi hereu, mayor of Barcelona, in front of the sketch, which is already hanging in the Museu Picasso’s Las Meninas room.
Many thanks Picasso, many thanks Catherine!
Exhibition Forgetting Velázquez, Las Meninas, Museu Picasso de Barcelona