Picasso, L'Aubade, 1942

This week in history: the birth of Pablo Picasso, October 25th 1881

Today marks 135 years since the birth of renowned Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. One of the best- known artists of the twentieth century, Picasso is perhaps most famous as co-founder of the cubist movement, which took Europe by storm in the early 1900’s.

Pablo showed artistic talent from a young age (his mother claimed his first word was piz, a shortened version of the Spanish word lapiz, meaning pencil), and was taught drawing and painting by his father for much of his childhood. An artist himself, it’s said that Picasso’s father saw one of his son’s drawings aged thirteen and, judging himself to have been surpassed, vowed never to draw again.

Although not particularly popular at the time, Picasso’s Blue Period is now a stand-out aspect of his career. Lasting three years his work in this time adopted sombre tones and depicted the suffering of the masses in his native Spain. The dramatic change in style of Picasso’s work was triggered by the suicide of his close friend Carlos Casagemas, who shot himself in the head at his own birthday party.

It was also around this time that the artist began signing his paintings as ‘Pablo Picasso’ as opposed to ‘Pablo Ruiz y Picasso’ as he had formerly done, rejecting the Spanish naming custom dictating that a child’s surname incorporates that of both the paternal and maternal families.

Besides being one of the artistic greats, Picasso is next remembered as a terrible womanizer. A multitude of rumours surround his illustrious love life, and although he married twice it’s not thought that he remained faithful to either wife. It has been suggested that his 1940 cubist painting Les Soles, which depicts a crab surveying two fish on a set of scales, in fact symbolises him choosing between two potential mistresses (the crab in the picture has the same beady eyes which made Pablo so recognisable).

It’s said there was only one woman to ever leave Picasso. Her name was Françoise Gilot and when they began their affair she was 23, and 40 years his junior. After she left him Picasso allegedly sent her a ring as a present. Upon examining the ring she noticed minuscule hooks lining the inside – had she put the ring on they would have dug into her skin, causing her great pain and making it almost impossible to remove.

Image: Sharon Mollerus, Flickr

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