The Porxos d’en Xifré, Picasso’s first residence in Barcelona

Els Porxos d’en Xifré, la primera residència de Picasso a BarcelonaPablo Picasso: Rooftop of Les cases d’En Xifré. Painting on board. 04/10/1895. Oil of wood. 10 x 15.4 cm. MPB 110.172


The Porxos d’en Xifré is a historic building of Barcelona which was inaugurated in 1840 after four years of works.  It occupies the block formed by the Passeig d’Isabel II, the Pla de Palau and the streets of Reina Cristina and Llauder, plots of land that were urbanized in 1834 as a result of the demolition of the sea wall. The building was the first to appear in daguerreotype done in Spain and is decorated with Masonic symbols.  But did you know that it was the first place where Picasso lived when his family moved to Barcelona? 

The exact point where Picasso’s family lived was the current number 4 of the Passeig d’Isabel II, where before a boarding house had been. The couple, José Ruiz y Blasco and Lola Picasso, along with the young Pablo and his sister Lola, moved in on 21st September 1895 (the other sister, Conxita, had died in January). It is more than likely that the family chose this location because it was very near to the railway station of Estació de França and it was just in front of the Escola de Llotja, where the father and son would coincide: José Ruiz as teacher of Fine Arts and Pablo, as student.

During that period, the Porxos d’en Xifré were home to some very well-known establishments, such as the Orxateria (tiger nut milk shop) of Tio Nel·lo and the Cafè Cuyàs, which is currently the restaurant, 7 Portes. Picasso, who was a teenager about to be 14 years old, often went up on the roof of the building to observe the urban landscape, and was inspired to do some paintings that would form part of the collection of the Museu Picasso and that would most probably be the first paintings he did in Barcelona.  It is worth highlighting the rounded shapes of the water deposits, and his first attempts at experimenting with alternative styles can be appreciated.

A few weeks afterwards, all the family moved to a bigger and more comfortable flat in the same block of houses of the Porxos d’en Xifrè, but in the back part of the building, the second flat on the second floor of the current number 3 of the street of Reina Cristina. The Ruiz-Picasso family stayed there until the summer of 1896, when they moved to Carrer de la Mercè.

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