Home / Art / Art HistoryPicasso’s Incredible Childhood Paintings Reveal a Different Side of the Modern Artist

Picasso’s Incredible Childhood Paintings Reveal a Different Side of the Modern Artist

Early Picasso Early Work Pablo Picasso Childhood

“Self-Portrait,” 1896 (Photo: Wiki Art Public Domain)

Usually, an artist's “early work” refers to pieces completed at the start of his or her career. In the case of modern master Pablo Picasso, however, the oldest examples of his prolific artistic talent date back much further—beginning, unbelievably, when he was just a child.

Picasso was born in 1881 to an artistic set of parents. His father taught him formal drawing techniques from an early age, and by the age of eight he was skilled in oil paint. His earliest painting, The Picador, is dated 1890 and is likely the oldest surviving painting by the artist.

Early Picasso Early Work Pablo Picasso Childhood

“The Picador,” 1890 (Photo: Wiki Art Public Domain)

Over the next few years, Picasso produced academic drawings and paintings that illustrated a rapid improvement. Specifically, his pencil studies from 1890 through 1892 highlight his advanced understanding of classical art fundamentals, including human anatomy.

Early Picasso Early Work Pablo Picasso Childhood

“Plaster Male Torso,” 1893 (Photo: Wiki Art Public Domain)

At just 13 years old, Picasso officially began his career as an artist. During these formative years, he developed a realist style characterized by naturalistic brushwork, a true-to-life color palette, and everyday subject matter.

Specifically, he enjoyed painting portraits of his loved ones and scenes inspired by his Catholic faith. Both of these artistic interests are evident in The First Communion, a large-scale painting of his sister, Lola, from 1896.

Early Picasso Early Work Pablo Picasso Childhood

“First Communion, 1896 (Photo: Wiki Art Public Domain)

Picasso worked in his realist style for the rest of the 1890s. By the turn-of-the-century, however, he had entered his Blue Period, a phase that ushered in a modernist aesthetic and ended the oeuvre now known as his “early work.”

While people with traditional tastes may prefer his childhood work, Picasso himself held his later avant-garde art in higher esteem. “It took me four years to paint like Raphael,” he famously explained, “but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

See more of Picasso's awe-inspiring early work below.

Early Picasso Early Work Pablo Picasso Childhood

“Science and Charity,” 1897 (Photo: Wiki Art Public Domain)

Early Picasso Early Work Pablo Picasso Childhood

“The Old Fisherman, 1895” Photo: Wiki Art Public Domain)

Early Picasso Early Work Pablo Picasso Childhood

“View of the Port of Valencia,” 1895 (Photo: Wiki Art Public Domain)

Early Picasso Early Work Pablo Picasso Childhood

“Portrait of the Artist's Mother,” 1896 (Photo: Wiki Art Public Domain)

Early Picasso Early Work Pablo Picasso Childhood

“The Altarboy,” 1896 (Photo: Wiki Art Public Domain)

Early Picasso Early Work Pablo Picasso Childhood

“Quarries,” 1896 (Photo: Wiki Art Public Domain)

Early Picasso Early Work Pablo Picasso Childhood

“Academic Study,” 1895 (Photo: Wiki Art Public Domain)

Want to learn more about the artist's development? Explore the entire evolution of Picasso's painting style.

h/t: [Open Culture]

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