The portrait of Aunt Pepa Picasso is known to be subtly dramatic and vigorous. It’s described as one of the greatest paintings in the history of Spanish and below is its overview.
The Portrait of Aunt Pepa Picasso
Aunt Pepa’s portrait is one of the best artwork from Picasso that was done when he was still young. It’s a defining piece of work that features Josefa Ruiz Blasco, his father’s sister who lived between 1825 and 1901.
Aunt Pepa Portrait Picasso was done in 1896 during one of the young Picasso’s study trips to the city of Malaga. What many elite art reviewers take from it is the significant fluidity it highlights. The portrait is a testament that Picasso was a creative genius who didn’t play with his brushstrokes.
According to Sabartes, this portrait is said to be done in less than one hour. This is a clear indication that Picasso was a young man who understood the power of his hands when it comes to speed and delivery of art. But we can somehow understand Picasso’s need to rush yet still create a masterpiece. His aunt wasn’t keen on getting painted and with her initial refusal in addition to lack of motivation by Picasso, this masterpiece’s production was delayed for a year.
There is a significant amount of play that comes with the portrait. The shadow backdrop a well as the dark clothes of the model in addition to the bright face smoothly blend to create a well-defined look. In fact, Picasso takes time to outline the background which also heightens the facial expression of the model. If you look at it from a psychological angle, you will find that it has a deep meaning.
The chromatic, as well as light treatment plus the raw realism of the model’s face, highlight the Spanish influence in the creation of the portrait.
Painter: Pablo Picasso
Date of art creation: 1896
Art movement: Realism
Period: Early Years
Genre of painting: Portrait
Painting technique: Oil
Painting material: Canvas
Dimensions: 57.5 x 50.5 cm
Location: Museu Picasso, Barcelona, Spain
Pablo Picasso was a renowned Spanish painter and artist who was born in 1881. He is considered as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century thanks to his numerous and outstanding pieces of artwork. His most famous piece of art is Guernica and it’s rated as one of the most searched paintings in the world.
4 Fun Facts about Picasso’s Paintings
- Artistically, Picasso was gifted but as a student, he was terrible.
- Le Picador was Picasso’s first artwork at the age of 9. It was a portrait depicting a man riding a horse during bullfighting.
- He did other paintings such as the House in the Field (1893), the Plaster Male Torso (1893), and Academical Study (1895).
- The First Communion is his 1st major academic painting and it features his parents and younger sister kneeling before the altar. He finished it when he was 15. It’s during this time that he also made the renowned portrait of Aunt Pepa.
Picasso is described as a virtuoso. He demonstrated outstanding technical ability in this piece of art. The free and effective flowing of the brushstrokes reveals his quick composing skills. The portrait of Aunt Pepa demonstrates his freedom in using oil to paint while expressing the fluidity of the artistic lines.
Background of Josefa Ruiz Blasco
Josefa Ruiz Blasco, the woman in the Aunt Pepa portrait, was born in 1825. She came from the Ruiz Blasco family where Pablo Picasso’s father was born. She was the eldest child among the 11 siblings and an aunt of Picasso.
During her time, Josefa lived with her brother Jose (Picasso’s dad) and Matilde her sister. They stayed in Placa de la Merced of Malaga. When Jose got married, Josefa left to stay with Salvador, her youngest brother.
The above overview gives us Josefa’s lifestyle. She moved from Jose’s home to Salvador’s because she was still a spinster. One thing that marked her life was her paralyzed leg. Technically, this had a huge impact on her. For instance, she rarely went out.
In Salvador’s home, Josefa had her own separate wing and her room was full of various religious relics. There were relics of saints as well as other items related to faith. Besides that, she kept memories of Pablo Ruiz Blasco, her brother who had passed away. Well, to also keep his memory as well, Jose decided to name his son Pablo as his first name. It should be noted that the elder Pablo had died roughly two years before the famous young Pablo was born.
But even with her paralyzed leg, Josefa had an outstanding personality. Her character was strong, she extremely believed in religion but sometimes she had seriously bad moods.
So, how did the Aunt Pepa portrait come about? During the summer holidays, Pablo Picasso would spend some stays with his family in Malaga. But when he was around 15 years in summer 1896, he was requested by his uncle Salvador to make an oil portrait of his aunt Josefa Ruiz.
Evidence suggests that when Josefa died, it was coincidentally during Picasso’s last visit to Malaga. This was in 1901.
This oil portrait turned out to be a masterpiece. Josep Palau I Fabre described the Portrait of Aunt Pepa as a significant artwork that had been crucial in propelling Picasso to greater heights, especially during his young formative years.
It’s worth noting that Picasso donated the portrait himself to Barcelona’s Museum Picasso in 1970. Josep went ahead to describe this portrait as an item that’s filled with a virtuosity that rivals with depth. According to him, it’s like both the depth and virtuosity in this portrait were competing for primacy.
The Earliest Life of Picasso From Malaga
According to the lifestyle in those times, Malaga could only be described as a luxurious city partitioned with classism. Although it was during the late 19th century, Malaga’s wealth was a far stretch. And as a matter of fact, this led to the development of more than 150 registered factories.
Historical books indicate that people used to describe Malaga as heaven on earth. That’s how luxurious and amazing it seemed to be. With industrializing now picking up, most people within the city’s population worked in these factories. There were massive opportunities and some people even ended up clocking 70 hours of work within one week.
However, Malaga wasn’t all rosy initially. Before some of these factories were even constructed, the city had experienced catastrophic events. Its location as well as the ongoing economic recession meant that it experienced a huge setback in terms of development. But its unforgiving spirit meant that there were always plans underway to facilitate the recovery process. Urban growth was promoted and diversity advocated for in order to find other ways of sustaining businesses.
Pablo Picasso was born during these changing times as Malaga was transitioning and growing. He spent his younger years in this contrasting city and one thing that was key to his development was his household. It was predominantly made of females including his mother, sisters, and aunts.
Besides that, there were also male figures who were present. This includes his father Jose Blasco. Jose was a teacher and painter who had a solid gathering of art enthusiasts.
We can confidently say that young Picasso could have been influenced by his father or his interest in making portraits was polished by him at a young age. The teacher had close links to the elites in the Malaga region. Apart from his artistic gatherings, Jose also spent time reading or often engaged in bullfighting.
To sharpen the artistic knowledge of young Picasso, Jose monitored his craft and skills from a young age. He made sure that he is introduced to the basic aspects of art creation which included various principles of technique as well as composition. And you know what, Picasso was an intelligent child. So, he quickly grasped these concepts.
He himself confirmed this when he said that there was no way his portraits could be categorized with those of other kids of his age. According to him, they lacked the naivety of a young and inexperienced child… which simply confirms that he was indeed skilled.
Generally, he made portraits of his surroundings. His collection featured scenes in bullfighting, lesson studies, his relations…including Aunt Pepa, and landscapes among others. Generally, we can describe these portraits as a fitting tribute to his surroundings which includes the city of Malaga and his home. Between his childhood and young adult life, he had an impressive collection of artwork. But it’s worth noting that he didn’t just stop here. During his adult life, he still made impressive portraits highlighting different aspects of life.
Picasso’s family left Malaga in 1891 and they simply used to return for a brief period. His visit in 1901 coincided with the year Josefa died. It’s said that this was the last time he was there and he was in the company of Carles Casagemas, his friend.