Executed in Barcelona in 1900.
signed P. Ruiz Picasso (lower right)
gouache, watercolour and pen and ink on paper
16 by 10.8cm.
6 1/4 by 4 1/4 in.
Barcelona, Museu Picasso, Picasso i Els 4 Gats, 1995, no. 162, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (as dating from 1901)
Pierre Daix, Georges Boudaille and Joan Rosselet, Picasso 1900-1906. Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Neuchâtel, 1966, no. I.26, illustrated p. 114
Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso. Supplément aux années 1892-1902, Paris, 1969, vol. 21, no. 138, illustrated pl. 53
O'Hana Gallery, London
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner in December 1963
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Executed at the time when Picasso's portraits were usually based either on his close family members, or professional models at the academy, the present work, depicting an old beggar woman, is a rare example of a portrait depicting an unidentified model, probably inspired by a street scene Picasso had witnessed. Executed in 1900, while Picasso was still living in his native Spain, La Vieille mendiante heralds the style of his celebrated Blue period. Triggered by street beggars, blind musicians and absinthe drinkers that Picasso encountered in the streets and cafés of the capital, his Blue period works take as their subject matter these figures of the demi-monde. Belonging to the same world of society outcasts, the old beggar of the present work is rendered with the same melancholic character, enhanced by the deep blue tones that were to dominate Picasso's most important paintings of the following years.