Feel Art Again: Picasso's "First Communion"

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Pablo Picasso is most famous for the artwork he produced during his blue period and his cubist periods. Yet Picasso began his career with more traditional styles; he once stated, "...at 15 I painted like Velazquez, and it took me 80 years to paint like a child." Today, on the anniversary of his birthday, let's delve into one of his earlier pieces, "The First Communion."

1. The painting depicts Pablo Picasso's sister, Lola, at her first communion. The man at her side is either modeled on their father or on Vilches, a doctor and a friend of the family. The young altar boy is Pere, Vilches' son.

2. Picasso's interest in art developed at a young age: he began drawing by age 7, he completed his first painting by age 9, and at age 14 he began "The First Communion."

3. Jose Ruiz Blasco, Picasso's father and an accomplished artist in his own right, recognized his son's artistic streak. He nurtured Picasso's talent and admitted it even surpassed his own. When Picasso was around 13, Ruiz Blasco presented Picasso with his own palette and brushes and vowed never to paint again. Ruiz Blasco continued to teach at art schools, but could never bring himself to paint.

4. "The First Communion" was Picasso's entry into the official artistic world. He presented it at the Third Exhibition of Fine Arts and Artistic Industries in 1896.

5. The full name given to Picasso by his parents is quite a mouthful: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Clito Ruiz y Picasso.

6. Picasso's good friend Guillaume Apollinaire, a poet, was arrested on suspicion of stealing the "Mona Lisa" (discussed in a previous edition of Feel Art Again) from the Louvre in 1911. Apollinaire, in turn, pointed the finger at Picasso, who was also brought in for questioning. Both were later exonerated.

'Feel Art Again' appears every Tuesday and Thursday.