Harlequin and Companion, 1901 © The State Pushkin Museum, Moscow
In 1901 aged 19 Pablo Ruiz y Picasso arrived in Paris at the beginning of
May with an exhibition of his work already arranged by the dealer Ambroise
Vollard. He spent the summer creating the paintings at amazing speed – most of
the 64 paintings in the show, which opened on June 24, were done that summer.
The Vollard show was acritical success as well as a commercial one and marks the arrival of Picasso
on the art scene because it is then that he abandoned his father’s name, Ruiz
and started signing himself simply Picasso. The exhibition is a blaze of colour
and shows how he seems to have taken inspiration from the other artists working
in the city at the time – Gaugin, Degas, Manet and Renoir. He summed it up perfectly – Good
artists borrow from others, great artists steal. There are absinthe drinkers,
prostitutes, Spanish dancers, pictures of Harlequin, who was to feature in many
works later in his career, his famous
Child with a Dove, a picture of fragile innocence which, it seems, was
painted over a picture of a naked prostitute, two self portraits and the blasphemous
secular altarpiece he painted in memory of his friend Casagemas who had
committed suicide earlier in the year. Picasso was one of the great figures of
20th century art and the exhibition shows what that greatness sprang
Child with a Dove, 1901. Private Collection.
Seated Harlequin, 1901 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/ Scala, Florence
Absinthe Drinker, 1901 The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
Dwarf Dancer, 1901 Museum Picasso, Barcellona (gasull Fotografia)
The Blue Room (The Tub), 1901, The Phillips Collection, Washington
Enquiries about the Critics' Circle should be made to the Hon Gen Sec Rick Jones by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 8698 2460.