Back home: from Paris to Barcelona

Since the large loan of works of the Museu Picasso of Barcelona for the major retrospective of the artist of the Museum of Modern Art of New York in (MOMA) in 1980, never have so many of our highlights from the collection left the museum at one time. But on the occasion of the exhibitions of Masterpieces at the Musée Picasso, Paris and Picasso. Blue and Rose at the Musée d’Orsay, around sixty works of the museum travelled to the French capital last September where they remained until the closing of the two exhibitions at the beginning of January. Now the works have returned home after their Parisian stay, and in the case of the pieces that habitually have always been hung in the permanent collection, have now come back to occupy their place. Others, as is the case of many drawings, have returned to the storeroom as they needed a rest.

This bulk of works provided to the two Parisian museums has not only been remarkable for the large number of pieces but also for their quality and emblematic value in the tour of the Picasso Museum. An example is the case of the large canvas Science and Charity, a crucial work in the formation of the teenage Picasso, and which was included in the exhibition of the museum of the artist in Paris. It was carried out when the artist was only 15 years old, showing a major plastic maturity for such a young artist. The painting, which portrays the collaboration between medical and religious assistance of a poor sick woman, was exhibited at the Musée Picasso in Paris alongside six preparatory studies of the canvas, and of the watercolour on paper Portrait of the artist’s father (1896), related to Science and Charity, since the doctor who appears next to the sick woman is none other than a portrait of José Ruiz, the artist’s father.

Science and Charity after the return from the Picasso Museum in Paris

Now that Science and Charity is once again occupying its usual place in the museum, Picasso’s public can see it completely restored for the first time, given that the canvas was subjected to an operation of cleaning, consolidation and colour retouching of the work before leaving for Paris. The restoration, in addition, allowed Picasso’s signature to be more visible on the left-hand side of the canvas, after removing paint additions. In the coming months, moreover, an acclimatized showcase will be installed over the painting that will protect it from dust.

In the exhibition of the Musée d’Orsay, on the other hand, 49 works were exhibited from the Barcelona museum, from the period 1901-1905, painted between Paris and Barcelona. And it was not exactly a second rate selection that left the museum, since among them there were such outstanding works from the itinerary of the young Picasso as The embrace (1901), Nana (1901), The wait (Margot) (1901), Woman in white hat (1901) The dead woman (1903), The fool (1904), the two versions of Rooftops of Barcelona (1902 and 1903) or Mrs. Canals (1905).

L'espera (Margot)

Pablo Picasso. Waiting (Margot). Paris, May-June 1901. Oil on cardboard. 68.5 x 56 cm. Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Given by the Barcelona City Council, 1963. MPB 4.271. Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Photograph, Gasull Fotografia


The series of amusing erotic drawings that Picasso produced between 1902 and 1903 also travelled to the Musée d’Orsay, which, although they are usually exhibited in the Barcelona museum, are barely known by the foreign public.

Pablo Picasso. The Brothers Mateu and Àngel Fernández de Soto with Anita. Barcelona, 1902-1903. Conté crayon, blue pencil and watercolour on paper. 31 x 23.7 cm. Museu Picasso, Barcelona.Given by the Barcelona City Council, 1963. MPB 50.498. Museu Picasso, Barcelona. Photograph, Gasull Fotografia

 On the occasion of this loan and in return, the Musée Picasso in Paris and the Musée d’Orsay loaned nineteen works from their collections to be exhibited in the Picasso discovers Paris exhibition, which could be seen in the Barcelona Museum between September 21st and January 20th, and which analysed the impact that the art which he was able to see in Paris had had on Picasso from his first trip, in 1900 until 1904, when he settled down definitively. In addition to works by Picasso, there were works in the exhibition by Cézanne, Degas, Gauguin, Steinlen and Toulouse-Lautrec.


Written by the Museum

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