Pablo Picasso

Two Sisters

Two Sisters
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Pablo Picasso
Painting, Oil on canvas pasted on panel, 152x100 cm
Origin: France, 1902

Picasso painted this large work in the summer of 1902 in Barcelona. It is one of the most important items of his Blue Period, when the tragic mood of monochrome blue and bluish-green came to determine the whole structure of his paintings.

"Art flows from pain and sadness" was Picasso's approach, which he realised with purely Spanish maximalism. He refracts through the prism of unhappiness and sorrow his observations of his friends, of the blind and poor, of sad mothers and prostitutes.

During a visit to Paris, Picasso deliberately visited the Saint-Lazare hospital for prostitutes and made sketches there. On his return to Barcelona he wrote to his friend, the poet Max Jacob, "I am going to paint a picture, a drawing for which I am sending you. The meeting of a prostitute from the prison hospital with her sister, a nun." From this very concrete origin, the Hermitage painting developed until it gained a universal character.

In its static, symbolic nature, the composition recalls monumental religious art, summoning up direct associations with representations of the meeting of the Virgin Mary and the ageing Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, and with the ascetic figures of medieval mourners. The women seem to form a human arch, an architectural entrance to a mysterious, cosmically endless world.

Source of entry: acquired in 1948

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