Pablo Picasso Hidden Vulnerability in powerful Art

Pablo Picasso Lithography – Harlequin

Pablo Picasso might just be the most famous artist of the twentieth century. It is not just his work that has always been much talked about. Picasso’s private life has been portrayed in several motion pictures. In 1996, Anthony Hopkins took on the part of Picasso for the film Surviving Picasso. In the film, Modigliani that revolves around the life of Pablo’s rival Modigliani, Picasso’s tumultuous life and eccentric personality is also strongly portrayed. Many will recognize Picasso’s work by the sharp-edged shapes, known as cubism. However, as an artist, Pablo Picasso went through many phases in which he experimented with various styles. One of which was his blue period.


Picasso’s blue period


Between 1905 and 1915, together with artist Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso developed the style that he is most known for these days: Cubism. The years that preceded were gloomy years in Paris, the city where Picasso lived. Many Parisians were poor and hunger dominated their lives. The feeling of a gloomy Paris is clearly visible in Picasso’s works from that time. He used dark colors like black, green, purple and mainly blue. These dark colors symbolize the vulnerability of a dark time and place. Therefore, the period between 1901 and 1904 is known as Picasso’s blue period. The blue period was also the beginning of his career as an artist. Examples of works from this blue period are Desemparats and The Madman. A later work by Picasso, reminiscent of this style period is his Harlequin, one of five works from the Barcelona Suite.




Pablo Picasso originally painted the Harlequin in 1917. It was printed for the ‘avant la lettre’ edition in 1966. These exclusive prints were signed by Picasso. Of the Harlequin, only a limited number of signed copies exist. The harlequin figure was a source of inspiration for several of Picasso’s works. What is extraordinary about this particular piece is that both his cubist and his realistic style come together. This combination of styles characterizes Picasso’s earlier years as an artist. For each piece, Picasso learned about the person he portrayed. The Harlequin was no exception. In The Harlequin, you see how the character seems to be standing next to a stage. He rests his arm against the banister as he looks away from the audience and looks down on the other actors during their play. Although the figure itself is dressed in blue and green, a deep red curtain next to him is dramatically draped. The Harlequin exudes a certain calm whilst looking sad. This could reflect Picasso’s personal feelings. At that time he painted The Harlequin, he was engaged in a complicated romantic relationship with Olga Khokhlova.


We are fortunate to present one of the signed prints of The Harlequin on our platform.

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