Self-Portrait with Palette

Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, Spanish, 1881 - 1973

Geography:
Made in Europe

Date:
1906

Medium:
Oil on canvas

Dimensions:
36 3/16 x 28 7/8 inches (91.9 x 73.3 cm) Framed: 46 1/2 × 38 5/8 × 4 inches (118.1 × 98.1 × 10.2 cm)

Copyright:
© Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Curatorial Department:
Modern Art

Object Location:

* Gallery 166, Modern and Contemporary Art, first floor

Accession Number:
1950-1-1

Credit Line:
A. E. Gallatin Collection, 1950

Social Tags [?]

picasso [x]  


[Add Your Own Tags]

Explore the Collections




Label:
This self-portrait casts the twenty-five-year-old painter as a hardy, athletic figure and sets the stage for the legend of Picasso as the artistic champion of the twentieth century. In preparatory drawings the artist included a brush in his right hand, but he removed it in this final version. Its absence attests to the notion that creative genius is not simply manual dexterity but the expression of an inner vision, here symbolized by the artist’s intense, staring eyes.

Additional information:
  • PublicationMasterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art

    This portrait is the triumphant manifesto of a twenty-five-year-old artist who, after several years of struggling to channel his innate virtuosity, emerged resoundingly with a unique artistic vision. It is Picasso's first important self-portrait since 1901. In the intervening years, he had appeared in the guise of hungry beggars or circus performers--metaphorical representations of the impoverished, outcast artist. Here Picasso emerges as a proud and determined painter, the palette the only clue to the profession of the tough, athletic figure represented. The artist's power is concentrated in his right arm, with its clenched fist, a massive form that overwhelms the rest of the simply rendered body. The muscular vitality of this arm acts in counterpoint to the stern expression of the face, whose exaggerated eyelids and brows, oval face, and oversized ear give it the aspect of a mask, separated from the body by the pronounced line of the collarbone. In this painting, which reflects the stylistic influences of Picasso's recent encounters with African art and archaic Iberian sculpture, the artist appears as a painter without a brush. Picasso thus confidently and presciently ascribes to himself the "magic" he would continue to discover in pre-modern and non-Western artistic traditions. Michael R. Taylor, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 114.
  • PublicationTwentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    This portrait is the triumphant manifesto of a twenty-five-year-old artist who, after several years of struggle to channel his innate virtuosity, resoundingly emerged with a unique voice. It was Picasso's first explicit self-portrait painting since 1901. In the intervening years, he had placed himself in his canvases only in the guise of hungry beggars or scraggly performers, metaphors for the impoverished painter scorned by bourgeois society. Here, in contrast, Picasso casts himself as a hardy, athletic figure whose carriage suggests that of a boxer or a wrestler. Drawings for the composition place a brush in Picasso s right hand, but in the final painting that hand is clenched in a fist, and a palette offers the only clue to his profession. The artist's power is concentrated in the massive right arm, which overwhelms the rest of the simply rendered body.

    This is evidently a self-portrait painted in the third person, since the artist's eyes do not gaze back at a mirror image but look off into an indefinite distance. It is as if the artist wears a mask, much as an athlete or a warrior wears a helmet that signifies his power but gives no indication of his thoughts or feelings. Appearing virtually detachable, the face is separated from the artist's body both by its deep hue and by the firm demarcation of the line of the collarbone. The stylization of the exaggerated eyelids and brows, oval face, and oversized ear draw on various sources, including the inspiration of Gauguin, especially his sculpture. It also evokes the so-called primitive art that Picasso knew well at this time, including archaic Iberian sculptures on display at the Louvre and Romanesque sculptures he had seen in Spain the previous summer. Casting himself as the painter without a brush, Picasso confidently and presciently ascribes to himself the "magic" he would continue to discover and treasure in pre-modern and non-Western art traditions. Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2000), p. 21.


* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.