Art History Lab

Unveiling Picasso’s Early Genius: Exploring His Journey and Masterpieces

Pablo Picasso is undoubtedly one of the most iconic artists of the 20th century. His works are celebrated for their innovation and unmatched creativity.

Although Picasso is mostly known for his abstract art and cubism pieces, his early works are equally interesting and are a testament to his prodigious talents that started from a young age. This article aims to educate readers on Picasso’s early years, exploring his childhood and upbringing, artistic journey, as well as his exploration of mediums and techniques.

We will also look at some of his earliest paintings, examining how he developed his unique style. Early Picasso art, Picasso’s exploration of different mediums and techniques

Picasso was a lifelong artist whose career spanned seven decades.

He was primarily recognized for his experimentation with various mediums and techniques that would redefine art in the 20th century. Even during his formative years, Picasso demonstrated exceptional talent in drawing and painting.

In particular, he was interested in realism, which he mastered with ease. Picasso would later broaden his horizons by exploring various mediums such as watercolor, pastels, and oil paints, among others.

Additionally, he was known for his unconventional techniques, including his use of collage and mixed media. His exploration of different mediums and techniques helped him to create unique art pieces that would earn him recognition as one of the greatest artists of all time.

Picasso’s early realism, Picasso’s childhood and upbringing

Picasso’s early realism pieces are an insight into his journey to becoming the great artist he is known for today. Most of his early works were heavily influenced by the realist art style that was prevalent in the late 19th century.

For instance, his painting “First Communion” depicts a solemn religious ceremony and is a prime example of the realistic style he experimented with during his formative years. Picasso’s upbringing in southern Spain had a significant impact on his artistic development.

Born into a family of artists, Picasso was exposed to art at a young age. His father was a noted painter, and his mother was a singer and music teacher.

This environment in which Picasso grew up fostered his artistic talents, and he began drawing and painting at a very young age. Picasso attended art school at a young age, and by the time he was 16, he was already attending the Barcelona Academy.

Picasso as a child, Picasso’s talent for drawing, Picasso’s first exhibition

Picasso’s ability to draw at a young age was astonishing. At the age of ten, he drew a picture of a pigeon with remarkable detail and accuracy.

At 13, he completed his first painting, “Le Picador.” Picasso’s talent was evident from a very young age, and his father recognized this early on. He provided his son with art lessons and helped secure his first exhibition at the age of 15.

Picasso’s first exhibition was held in Barcelona in 1896. The exhibit showcased his drawings and paintings, and he received mixed reactions.

Some critics denounced him as a prodigy with no seminal ideas, while others praised his technical abilities. Despite the mixed reception, Picasso’s first exhibition was a significant milestone in his early career.

Picasso’s enrollment at Barcelona Academy, Picasso’s early paintings including The Altar Boy and Portrait of Aunt Pepa

In 1895, Picasso enrolled at the Barcelona Academy of Fine Arts. Although he was enrolled, he regarded the academic training as overly prescriptive and opted instead for self-discovery in his art.

During this period, he created a painting known as “The Altar Boy,” showcasing his exploration of the realism style. The painting is remarkable in its detail and vivid portrayal of emotion.

In 1896, Picasso painted a portrait of his aunt “Portrait of Aunt Pepa,” which showcases his talent in capturing the beauty of the human face. His ability to create an emotional connection between the sitter and the viewer is evident in his delicate brushwork and the use of color.


In conclusion, Picasso’s early works provide an insight into his journey towards greatness. His talent for drawing and painting was evident from a young age, and he honed his artistic skills through academic training and experimentation with different mediums and techniques.

Picasso’s exploration of realistic art, as well as his creative use of mixed media, set the stage for his extraordinary career. Picasso’s early works are a testament to his prodigious talent and his relentless pursuit of artistic excellence.

Picasso’s transfer to Madrid, Picasso’s exposure to masterworks at Museo del Prado, Picasso’s opposition to academic traditions

In 1897, Picasso transferred from the Barcelona Academy to the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid. This transfer marked a significant turning point in his career.

While in Madrid, he was exposed to some of the greatest works of art at the Museo del Prado. The works of artists such as Velazquez, Goya, and El Greco greatly influenced Picasso’s artistic development, and he incorporated elements of their styles into his own work.

Picasso’s education at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando was once again overly prescriptive, leading him to become disillusioned with academic traditions. He wrote, “I found out that I was worth nothing, and that nothing I could do would save me.

You only had to look at the tone of my drawings to see what was wrong. The academies had nothing to offer me.”

Despite his opposition, Picasso continued to learn and explore, focusing on his unique vision and style.

He rejected the academic tradition, instead finding inspiration in the art of ancient cultures, folk art, and modern artistic movements. Picasso’s embrace of modernity, Picasso’s work “Child with a Dove”

In the early 1900s, Picasso moved to Paris, where he fully embraced modernity, inspired by the avant-garde culture of the city.

During this time, he developed the style that would define his work and revolutionize the art world. Picasso’s early modernist works were characterized by their vibrant colors, distorted forms, and bold brushstrokes.

One of Picasso’s most significant early works was “Child with a Dove,” completed in 1901. The painting depicts a young boy holding a dove, symbolizing innocence and peace.

The simplicity of the painting belies its powerful emotional impact. This painting marked a major shift in Picasso’s style, transition from the traditional and realistic to the vibrant and experimental.

Description of early Picasso drawings and paintings, Picasso’s talent at a young age

Picasso’s early drawings and paintings are extraordinary, showcasing his exceptional talent from a very young age. He started drawing at a remarkably young age, and by the time he was 15, he was already producing paintings that were outstanding in their technique and quality.

One of Picasso’s earliest paintings, “Le Picador,” was completed when he was just 13 years old. The painting depicts a bullfighter on horseback, and it showcases the young artist’s mastery of color and composition.

Even in his early works, Picasso’s talent was evident. His paintings were characterized by a remarkable attention to detail and a sensitivity to the human form.

He was able to capture the essence of his subjects with an almost photographic accuracy, a rare quality that would set him apart from his contemporaries. Dispelling the notion of Picasso’s style, Examples of early Picasso artworks

Picasso’s work is often associated with Cubism, a revolutionary art movement he helped to create.

However, his early works were vastly different in style and composition. His early works were characterized by their realism and traditional style, incorporating elements of the art styles popular during the late 19th century.

Picasso’s early works such as “The Absinthe Drinker” and “Portrait of Gustave Coquiot” demonstrate his abilities as a realist artist. In these paintings, he showcases his skill in capturing the likeness of his subject with great detail and precision.

Picasso also experimented with different mediums, such as pastels and watercolors. His watercolor painting, “Femme l’ventail” (Woman with a Fan), is a delicate and expressive portrayal of a woman.

The ethereal quality of the painting is achieved through the use of muted colors and subtle brushwork. In conclusion, Picasso’s early works are a testament to his prodigious talent and his relentless pursuit of artistic excellence.

His exploration of different subjects, styles, and mediums showcased his versatility and creativity. Although he is primarily known for his later works, his early works demonstrate a mastery of realism and traditional styles while providing a glimpse into the creative mind of one of the greatest artists of all time.

Description and analysis of “Picador” painting

“Picador” is one of Picasso’s early paintings completed when he was just 13 years old. This painting depicts a horseman known as a picador, whose role in bullfighting is to use a lance to weaken the bull before the matador takes over.

The painting is characterized by its vibrant colors, intricate details, and technique, demonstrating Picasso’s early mastery of painting. The composition of the painting is dynamic, drawing the viewer’s eye towards the picador’s lance raised high above his head.

The horse is beautifully rendered, with its muscles and sinewy limbs depicted with great accuracy. The background of the painting is muted, allowing the focus to remain squarely on the central figure of the picador.

In “Picador,” Picasso demonstrates his understanding of color theory and composition, encapsulating the essence of the bullfight in one vivid and powerful image. Even at the age of 13, Picasso’s prodigious talent is evident, and it provides a glimpse of the genius he would become.

Description and analysis of “First Communion” painting

“First Communion” is a portrait of Picasso’s father’s niece, Lola. This painting was completed by Picasso when he was just 15 years old.

The painting depicts Lola dressed in her first communion dress, looking directly at the viewer. The painting is painted in a realistic style, drawing heavily on Picasso’s training in academic art.

The attention to detail in the painting is remarkable, with the folds and creases on Lola’s dress and the lace on the shawl depicted with masterful precision. What sets “First Communion” apart from other academic works is the emotional impact it conveys.

Lola’s expression, with her eyes locked on the viewer, is one of a solemn obedience that would fit perfectly in the context of a religious ceremony. The painting captures a moment of great significance to Lola, and to Picasso’s family, and its simple yet powerful portrayal has ensured its place as one of Picasso’s most significant early works.

Description and analysis of “Self-Portrait” painting

“Self-Portrait” is a painting by Picasso completed in 1901, when he was in his early twenties. The painting is significant in that it is one of the few self-portraits completed by Picasso.

The painting is dominated by a bold and confident self-assurance that would become one of the hallmarks of his later works. The painting captures Picasso’s spirit and his artistic vision.

He depicted himself with an angular face, sharp lines, and a piercing gaze, indicative of the modernist ideas that were emerging in Paris during this period. The muted colors of the painting enhance the slightly distorted features of the face, creating a sense of tension and unease.

Picasso’s “Self-Portrait” shows an artist who is self-aware and confident in his artistic vision. The bold brushwork, sharp lines, and confident composition establish Picasso as a master of modern art.

Description and analysis of “Portrait of Aunt Pepa” painting

“Portrait of Aunt Pepa” is one of Picasso’s early works, completed when he was just 18 years old. The painting depicts Picasso’s aunt and is a remarkable example of his sensitivity and attention to detail.

The painting is a realistic representation of the subject, capturing the delicate features of Aunt Pepa with great accuracy. The subject is wearing a simple, plain dress, with a shawl draped over her shoulders.

The colors used in the painting are muted, with the focus on the subject rather than the background. What sets “Portrait of Aunt Pepa” apart from other academic works is the emotional connection between the subject and the viewer.

The painting is a rich portrayal of Aunt Pepa’s life and character. Picasso captures her dignity and grace, with an almost photographic accuracy.

In conclusion, Picasso’s early works are a testament to his prodigious talent and his relentless pursuit of artistic excellence. His exploration of different subjects, styles, and mediums showcase his versatility and creativity.

The works discussed above demonstrate Picasso’s mastery of different styles, from the academic and realistic to modernist and avant-garde. The emotional and intellectual depth found in these early works would continue to evolve and define the artist’s career.

Description and analysis of “Science and Charity” painting

“Science and Charity” is a painting completed by Picasso at the age of 16. This poignant painting depicts a young girl lying on a bed, while a doctor and a nun hover beside her.

The painting explores themes of life, death, suffering, and the role of science and religion in providing comfort and care. The composition of the painting is striking, with the young girl positioned centrally on the bed.

The figures of the doctor and the nun are positioned on either side of her, creating a sense of balance and symmetry. The colors used in the painting are muted, with a dominant use of browns and beiges, adding to the somber and solemn atmosphere of the scene.

“Science and Charity” reflects the influence of social realism, a genre that Picasso was exposed to during his time in Madrid. The painting not only showcases Picasso’s technical skill in depicting the human form but also highlights his ability to evoke emotion and capture the complexity of human experiences.

Description and analysis of “Quiquet’s Farmhouse” painting

“Quiquet’s Farmhouse” is a painting created by Picasso in his late teenage years. It depicts a rural landscape with a farmhouse nestled amidst trees.

The painting showcases Picasso’s ability to capture the atmosphere of the natural world and his attention to detail. The composition of the painting is balanced, with the farmhouse as the focal point.

The details of the surrounding landscape, such as the trees and the rolling hills, are rendered with meticulous brushwork, displaying Picasso’s appreciation for nature and his ability to depict it with precision. “Quiquet’s Farmhouse” reflects Picasso’s love for the countryside and his affinity for landscapes.

It highlights his ability to capture the beauty of the world around him and his dedication to capturing the essence of a place through his art. Description and analysis of “The Divan” painting

“The Divan” is a painting completed by Picasso in 1901.

The painting depicts a reclining woman on a divan, a popular motif in European art during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The woman’s voluptuous figure and sensual pose invite the viewer into a world of intimacy and desire.

The use of color in “The Divan” is striking, with rich reds and warm oranges dominating the composition. The woman’s pale skin contrasts with the vibrant background, further emphasizing her sensuality.

Picasso’s brushwork is loose and expressive, adding to the overall mood of the painting. “The Divan” is considered one of Picasso’s early forays into the exploration of sexuality and eroticism in art.

The painting demonstrates his ability to capture the human form and convey emotion through color and composition. It serves as a precursor to Picasso’s later works that would continue to push the boundaries of art and challenge societal norms.

Description and analysis of “Decadent Poet” painting

“Decadent Poet” is a painting completed by Picasso in 1901. The painting depicts a man in a dark room, sitting at a table with a quill in his hand.

The man is hunched over, lost in thought, reflecting the image of a poet or writer immersed in his own world of creativity and introspection. The use of color in “Decadent Poet” is somber, with muted tones of blues and grays dominating the composition.

The brushwork is loose and expressive, capturing the deep emotions and introspection of the subject. “Decadent Poet” is representative of Picasso’s exploration of the bohemian culture and the emerging symbolism movement of the time.

The painting captures the essence of the poet as a romantic figure, isolated from the world, and consumed by his inner thoughts and emotions. It demonstrates Picasso’s ability to convey complex psychological states through his art.

In conclusion, Picasso’s early works reflect his versatility, technical skill, and his exploration of various themes and art movements. From capturing the raw emotions of life and death in “Science and Charity” to expressing the sensuality and eroticism in “The Divan,” Picasso’s early works laid the foundation for his later artistic innovations.

These paintings provide a window into the artist’s evolving style and his constant quest for pushing the boundaries of art. Description and analysis of “The Wait” painting

“The Wait” is a painting completed by Picasso in 1901.

The painting depicts a woman sitting alone in a room, gazing down and lost in thought. The sense of melancholy and solitude permeates the composition.

The composition of “The Wait” is simple yet powerful. The woman is positioned in the center of the canvas, surrounded by the empty space of the room.

The colors used are muted, with cool tones dominating the painting. The brushwork is gestural, conveying a sense of movement and emotion.

“The Wait” captures a moment of introspection, where the viewer is left to wonder about the woman’s thoughts and emotions. The painting elicits a sense of longing and anticipation, as if the woman is waiting for something or someone.

Picasso’s ability to convey complex emotions through his artwork is evident in this painting. Description and analysis of “Fairground Stall” painting

“Fairground Stall” is a painting completed by Picasso in 1900.

The painting depicts a bustling fairground scene, with people gathered around various stalls, engaging in leisure activities. The lively atmosphere and energy of the fair are captured with dynamic brushwork and vibrant colors.

The composition of “Fairground Stall” is busy, with multiple figures and elements filling the canvas. The brushwork is loose and expressive, giving a sense of movement and liveliness to the scene.

The use of bright colors and bold shapes adds to the festive atmosphere of the fair. “Fairground Stall” showcases Picasso’s ability to capture the essence of a moment and convey it through his art.

The painting provides a glimpse into the bustling world of the fair, with people engaging in games, entertainment, and social interaction. It reflects Picasso’s interest in capturing everyday life and the energy of the people around him.

In conclusion, Picasso’s early works reveal his skill in capturing different emotions and atmospheres through his art. Whether it is the introspective solitude of “The Wait” or the vibrant energy of the “Fairground Stall,” Picasso’s paintings offer a window into the human experience.

His use of composition, color, and brushwork showcase his artistic experimentation and ability to convey complex emotions and scenes. These early works set the foundation for Picasso’s later artistic explorations and cemented his reputation as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

In this article, we have explored the early works of Pablo Picasso, shedding light on his talent, artistic development, and exploration of different styles and subjects. From his early mastery of realism to his embrace of modernity, Picasso’s early paintings and drawings showcased his prodigious talent and set the stage for his groundbreaking career.

We have analyzed key works like “Picador,” “First Communion,” “The Divan,” and “The Wait,” highlighting Picasso’s ability to capture emotion, atmosphere, and the human experience through his brushstrokes. The importance of Picasso’s early works lies in their role as a foundation for his later artistic innovations and their contribution to the evolution of art.

As we reflect on these early works, we are reminded of Picasso’s relentless pursuit of artistic excellence and his enduring impact on the art world.

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