Staff at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona restoring one of the artist’s teenage works have stumbled across a hitherto unknown, even earlier creation by the Spanish genius.
It was when museum employees pulled out the cardboard behind his 1896 painting Portrait of the Artist’s Mother - painted by Picasso when he was 15, and one of the most representative of the artist’s teenage works - that they revealed a charcoal drawing of a male character smoking a pipe.
The museum’s head of restoration, Reyes Jiménez, says that there is no doubt that the newly discovered work is older than the painting of his mother: “If it were the other way round, he would have destroyed the pastel drawing at the time of producing it.”
She says the male figure is similar in terms of the technique, the rendering of the chiaroscuro and the kind of paper used for another piece in the museum, Bust of a 19th-century Gentleman. It also shows Picasso already had great control of a difficult technique during his years spent living in Galicia (1891-1895). “His level of knowledge was greater than we thought it was,” she says.
Portrait of the Artist’s Mother is one of the 921 works that Picasso donated to the museum in 1970. The majority are oil paintings and drawings created during his childhood and youth.