Pablo Picasso's Biography abd Self-Portrait With Palette Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1741 Words
Date:  2022-06-20

Pablo Picasso's Biography

Pablo Ruiz Picasso is a legendary figure in Europe and the entire world known for his beautiful paintings, ceramics, sculptures and stage performances. The professional painter was born in Malaga, Spain in October 1881and died in April 1973 in France. He was the first born of his parents Don Jose Ruiz y Blasco and partially Italian mother, Maria Picasso y Lopez. He felt connected to artworks at an early age since he spent most of his free time sketching his friends and other things within the surrounding. Don Ruiz, who was a painter and teacher, noticed his son's interest in painting and started training him when he was just seven years (Penrose). Thus, Picasso perfected his skills in artwork such that his father requested the officials at the School of Fine Arts in A Coruna, where he was a professor, to give him an entrance exam and be enrolled as a student. He attended classes here until the age of 16 years when he was sent to one of the best art schools in Spain, The Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. However, he dropped out of the school because he felt that the teachers were giving too many formal instructions that were unpleasant to him.

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Picasso made his first trip to France during his late teenage years, and he settled with his painting friend in Paris where they survived by doing various artworks. Carlos Casegemas became his host and French teacher. Life was had during the early years of living independently without asking for financial support from his parents. For instance, they were forced to burn their paintings to warm their house because they had no or limited means to acquire comfortable places to live. During this time he produced paintings that characterized the suffering they were going through together with his friend, who later committed suicide after he could not survive the torment any longer because of poverty. Picasso described this era from 1901 to 1904 as the Blue Period. Things started getting better after several years of living in France, and he began painting more lovely artworks illustrating him as a happy man faced with less depressing challenges, unlike in the past years. Until his death, he has produced a lot of tempting and optimistic paintings that are known and admired worldwide making him one of the most influential people of the 20th Century. One of his artworks includes The Self-Portrait with Palette that he painted in 1906 during the Rose Period when he was starting to gain popularity and success with his work.


The original name of the painting was Autoportrait before it was later changed to Self-Portrait with Palette. It was painted in 1906 on a medium of oil on canvas that is mounted on a honeycomb panel. In the painting, there is a young man in his 20s wearing a white long-sleeved v-necked t-shirt and a black pant. He has a proper Iberian lacquer black hair. His oval shaped and mask-like face is tilted such that the ears, eyes, and nose are pointing in one direction but away from the painter (Picasso). The look on his face indicates intensity and alertness which is depicted by the wide opened almond-shaped eyes. The right arm is clinched into a fist, and the sleeve rolled over up to the elbow. On the left arm, the man has a black object most probably a sculpture. The v-necked t-shirt and the arm with the rolled sleeve indicate the young man is a masculine person. Also, from the broad and the bull neck, it is evident that he is a strong person. The background of the painting is an opaque wall illustrated by the black color.


The Self-Portrait with Palette is a painting that illustrates the Pablo Picasso during his mid-20s immediately after things started becoming less challenging. It includes him with an exaggerated massive and masculine body that is seen from his mighty right hand and broad chest revealing from the v-necked t-shirt. In the attempt to show his motives and purpose of the painting, Picasso has considered several elements of arts. He has ensured that the viewer is attracted to it with the first glance by using reflective and intriguing colors. The young man's upper body's parts that are uncovered have been painted in appealing and concentrated brown color where the rest is covered with a reflective white t-shirt. Moreover, the expression on his face is enough to draw a viewer closer to have a clear look and understand the painting more. It becomes the viewer's interest to comprehend why the man has that sharp and intensive face and probably try to capture what he is looking at the lower part of the painting. Undoubtedly, the painter intended the viewer to dig deeper to understand the meaning. However, it is clear that the man has achieved something significant in his life as indicated by the fist and exaggerated body size (Picasso). It is unlikely for a person with depressing challenges to reveal a plain and mask-like face as displayed in the painting where Picasso has a smiley-like face. Therefore, from the colors used and the manner in which the painter has presented himself, it is a clear indication that the artwork is meant to reveal his emotions and feelings regarding the apparent life.


Although the hair and the shape of the head do not match Picasso's actual appearances, the nose and the neck indicate precisely that it is a self-portrait as depicted by the painting's title. He produced it after the end of the blue period a time he had a lot of problems because of the depressing poverty they were facing with his friend. The massive body and the intense mask-like face are an implication of achievement since after a long struggle through demoralizing hardships he life was beginning to change for the better, and now he could attest to success. Also, the fist is an indication of success after a tiring journey. Coincidentally or intentionally, the painting is similar to 1890's Self-Portrait with Palette by Cezanne who passed away two days before Picasso's 25th birthday (Picasso). The former was the latter's role model as he precisely stated in one of his comments "Cezanne was my one and only master. I spent years studying his artwork, and he was like our father who protected us all."(Penrose). Hence, it is possible that he painted the portrait as a way of showing respect and in the act of mourning. It was an indication of homage to the dead. Moreover, is his role model, he intended to take over from where Cezanne had left; therefore producing a similar self-portrait as an implication of inheritance. He was preparing the funs of his artwork for the future by conveying a message that he was the one in control of the art industry after the death of his master.

Lastly, the self-portrait was produced in the same year as the Portrait of Gertrude Stein, who was Picasso's lover, and he ensured the elements included in them were similar (Giroud). Hence, he painted himself to show the significance of the bond they shared as lovers. He felt that the feelings they shared should be expressed externally and let the world know he and Gertrude were one and unique. Thus the painting indicates homage to the relationship between the two individuals and also an implication of the extent Picasso treasured and appreciated his partner. Therefore, it is clear that he was expressing appreciation to various people he felt indebted to and had to visually show his appreciation not only for them but also for other people that loved his artistry.


Although Cezanne was not alive at the time, Picasso produced a self-portrait similar to his, at least there was someone who was willing to push his legacy as an artist forward. Whenever fans of his artwork see the self-portrait of 1906, they always remember the 1890 one implying that the work by the younger painter was affected by the artistry of the elder positively. Moreover, it shows unrelenting appreciation for the contribution of Cezanne in making Pablo the legendary artist he became. Also, the artwork indicates that the painter respected Gertrude as his lover and partner, and was not afraid to showcase that love to other people who knew him or her (Giroud). It creates an impression on other people who do not appreciate or are afraid to let the public know their private life because they are not ready to be criticized.

Additionally, the self-portrait strongly indicates that the painter is proud of his work as an artist. By painting himself looking strong and energetic shows that he recognizes his career as the primary reason he has been able to achieve his pre-set objectives and be able to move out of poverty line. It is clear that he is always motivated by passion whenever he is producing various artworks and is ready to be criticized as long as he is doing what he loves most. Furthermore, it is a message to the society that a person should always be passionate whenever is doing what he loves and should not feel demoralized by the challenges that are there since one can and perceiver and come out strong.

Undoubtedly, the self-portrait of 1906 by Picasso has been successful over the years since it was initially produced as Autoportrait (Penrose). By being displayed in some of the best museums in the world such as the Philadelphia Museum, where it is currently located, it is evident that it has strongly achieved the painter's ambition of showcasing his quality work to as many people and generations around the globe. It is one of Pablo Picasso's artworks that will keep his legacy alive despite him being dead for many decades now. One generation to another will forever learn and understand him as one of the most celebrated artists that lived in the 20th Century and as the original owner of Self-Portrait with Palette of 1906. Hence, despite the negative critiques from some scholars, the artwork has continuously displayed excellence and quality within the art industry as implicated for multiple times it has been auctioned and ends up with the highest bidders such as the museum.

Works Cited

Giroud, Vincent, and Pablo Picasso. Picasso and gertrude stein. Vol. 64. No. 3. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006.

Penrose, Roland. Picasso: his life and work. Univ of California Press, 1981.

Picasso, Pablo. Self-portrait with palette, 1906. University of Manitoba, 1999.

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