Home » Exhibitions » Exhibition Review : Picasso Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery – 6th October 2016 to 5th February 2017

Exhibition Review : Picasso Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery – 6th October 2016 to 5th February 2017



The National Portrait Gallery present a major exhibition of portraits by Pablo Picasso, the exhibition entitled Picasso Portraits will include over 75 portraits by the artist in all media, ranging from well-known masterpieces to works that have never been shown in Britain before.


The exhibition includes self-portraits as well as portraits and caricatures of Picasso’s friends, lovers, wives and children. Guillaume Apollinaire, Carles Casagemas, Santiago Rusiñol, Jaume Sabartés, Jean Cocteau, Olga Picasso, Dora Maar, Lee Miller, Françoise Gilot and Jacqueline Picasso are some of the people featured.

Although all phases of the artist’s career is covered, the focus is on the early period when Picasso carried a series of portraits in many different styles.


The first room features a number of self-portraits that illustrate Picasso’s talent for self-promotion, self-belief and his sense of humour. 


Many of his earlier works were more traditional portraits like his self-portrait Picasso in a Top Hat from 1901 which shows the artist as an urbane man about town in a style that reflects his interest in the work of Toulouse Lautrec. A few years later, his interest in Cubism led to the extraordinary cubist portrait from 1910 of Daniel Henry Kahnweiler, the German art dealer and supporter.


A series of portraits of his wife, Olga Picasso shows how the artist could move with ease between styles with the same subject matter with the beautifully composed painting, Portrait of Olga Picasso from 1923 and the cubist Woman in a Hat (Olga) from 1935.


Because Picasso did not work to commission and spent his time drawing and painting people in his intimate circle, he produced a number of formal portraits but also witty caricatures and drawings that reflected the friendships and relationships of Picasso through his career.


Picasso is one of the best known artists of the 20th century but many people know him only for his cubist works. This exhibition provides evidence of his extraordinary talent which enabled him explore a range of styles when producing portraits. His relationship with many of the sitters suggest that Picasso had a lot of freedom to produce work that reflected their personality and perhaps some of their fantasies.

This intriguing and entertaining exhibition will allow visitors to see the many sides of Picasso and consider his talent in a wide range of media. After the exhibition finishes at the National Portrait Gallery it will go on tour to the Museu Picasso, Barcelona (17 March-25 June 2017).

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like to find out more about the exhibition, visit the National Portrait Gallery website here

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