Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Picasso and El Greco

Attracting visitors. The poster on Freiburg's advertising boards.
When the Basel Kunstmuseum advertised its exhibition, Picasso El Greco, Red Baron was excited.

Picasso and El Greco, those dissenters (Abweichler), are always on my mind. A well-organized comparison will shed new light on Picasso's work, for he said, "What I really like in El Greco's work are the portraits, all those gentlemen with pointed beards.

To make the trip to Basel attractive, the museum chose attractive females (What else?) on their poster. It shows Madame Canals from Picasso's Rose Period juxtaposed with Lady in a Fur Wrap. However, this painting originated in El Greco's workshop. Whether the master lent his hand to the painting is unknown. I doubt it, for the style is too precise and somewhat conventional. According to Wikipedia, the painting is now attributed to Alonso Sánchez Coello.

When I proposed that the Museumsgesellschaft visits the gallery, the response to the call was exceptional.

©Hal Jos
While our group was traveling to Basel in a chartered bus, one of our members, a professor of biology and artist, Hal Jos, gave a witty and expert introduction.

At the entrance to the exhibition, one paper filled with sketches drew all my attention:

These are sketches Picasso made at the Prado he visited with his painter colleague, and friend Francisco Bernareggi called Pancho, "We sent out our copies to our professor in Barcelona, Picasso's father. All was well so long as we worked on Velasquez, Goya, and the Venetians - but the day we decided to do a copy of El Greco and sent it to him, his reaction was, 'You're taking the wrong path.' That was in 1897 when El Greco was considered a menace."

The exhibition tried to follow Picasso's development by confronting his pictures with El Greco's paintings.

Self-Portrait (Blue Period), Paris 1901
Portrait of an old man, 1595
Boy leading a horse (Rose Period), 1905
Saint Martin and the beggar, 1597
Man, woman, and child, Paris 1906
The Holy family with Saint Anna and the infant Saint John, 1600
Bust of a woman (Cubism), 1907
The Virgin Mary, 1590
Head of a woman, Paris 1908
El Greco's workshop: Mater dolorosa, 1587
Seated nude, 1909
The penitent Magdalene, 1580
Portrait of D. H. Kahnweiler II, Juni 1957
Saint Joseph, 1577
Jaume Sebartes with ruff and bonnet, Royan 1939
An elderly gentleman, 1587
Looking at El Greco's Saint Martin and the beggar, I recalled the quarrel in Freiburg about a painting on Saint Martin's gate. Could we not simply incorporate El Greco's masterpiece?

The coronation of the virgin 1592
And there is more. Contemplating El Greco's Coronation of the virgin, I recalled the frivolous altarpiece in the Freiburg Minster, painted by Hans Baldung Grien, another Abweichler.

Krönung Mariens (©Wikipedia/PogoEngel)


  1. Thank you for your interesting posts. Recently, while reading a National Geographic article concerning Sofonisba, I was made aware of the fact that the origin of the Lady in a Fur Wrap has been contested. Regardless of who painted it, they did a masterful job!

    1. Thank you. I added your information to my blog.