Five medieval mansions on this street contain this museum of the work of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). The bulk of the art was donated by Jaume Sabartés y Gual, a lifelong friend of the artist. Although born in Malaga, Picasso moved to the Catalan capital in 1895 after his father was awarded a teaching job at the city's Fine Arts Academy in La Llotja. The family settled in the Calle Merce and when Picasso was a bit older, he moved to the Nou de Les Ramblas in the Barrio Chino. Although he left Spain for good at the outbreak of the Civil War -- and refused to return while Franco was in power -- he was particularly fond of Barcelona, where he spent his formative years painting its seedier side and hanging around with the city's bohemians. As a sign of his love for the city, and adding to Sabartés enormous bequest, Picasso donated some 2,500 of his paintings, engravings, and drawings to the museum in 1970. All of these were executed in his youth (in fact, some of the paintings were done when he was only 9), and the collection is particularly strong on his Blue and Rose Periods. Many works show the artist's debt to van Gogh, El Greco, and Rembrandt.
The highlight of the collection is undoubtedly Las Meninas, a series of 59 interpretations of Velázquez's masterpiece. Another key work is The Harlequin, a painting clearly influenced by the time the artist spent with the Ballet Russes in Paris. It was his first bequest to Barcelona. In addition to the key works here, many visitors are transfixed by his notebooks containing dozens of sketches of Barcelona street scenes and characters -- proof of his extraordinary and often overlooked drawing talents. Because the works are arranged in rough chronological order, you can get a wonderful sense of Picasso's development and watch as he discovered a trend or had a new idea, mastered it, grew bored with it, and then was off to something new. You'll learn that Picasso was a master portraitist and did many traditional representational works before his flights of fancy took off. The exhibits in the final section ("The Last Years") were donated by his widow Jacqueline and include ceramic and little-known collage work.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Very Highly Recommended 2009
- Very Highly Recommended 2010