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A Museum of Picasso’s Precociousness

Barcelona’s Museu Picasso highlights works from his earliest days, before Paris and fame

Lonely Planet Barcelona, 11th edition

BECAUSE, IN the course of his long career, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was so prolific, there is no shortage of art galleries and museums boasting sizable collections of his work. What makes the Museu Picasso (www.museupicasso.bcn.cat) in Barcelona stand out, says the 11th edition of Lonely Planet Barcelona, and “what makes this collection truly impressive—and unique among the many Picasso museums around the world—is the way in which it displays his extraordinary talent at such a young age.”

Picasso, who was born in Málaga (home to another very good museum of his work), spent several of his formative years in Barcelona (1895-1904, when he moved permanently to Paris). Most of the Museu Picasso’s more than 3,500 works are pre-1904, although “there is enough material from subsequent periods to give you a thorough impression of the man’s versatility and genius.”

Among the examples of his precocious talent is the painting Ciència i caritat (Science and Charity): “it is almost inconceivable that such a work could have been created by the hands of a 15-year-old boy,” says the guidebook.

Two other features make the Museu Picasso worth a visit: its last rooms showcase some 40 of his ceramics, a lesser-known aspect of the artist’s output. “You’ll see plates and bowls decorated with simple, single-line drawings of fish, owls and other animal shapes, typical of Picasso’s daubing on clay.” And there is the museum itself: five contiguous medieval mansions, four dating from the 14th century (the fifth is from the 18th century).

 

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