9 most famous paintings by Pablo Picasso

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Pablo Picasso is one of the most famous, 'prolific' and expensive artists. A genius with his own style, the creator of cubism. The famous Spaniard was not only a master of painting: he managed to realize himself in graphics, decor, ceramics and other areas of art. The creative genius worked tirelessly, creating over the years a huge number of works: according to Picasso's own calculations, there were more than 50,000 of them. Here are the most famous paintings of the Spanish artist, some of which have become cult.

The great genius of Cubism: 9 of the most famous paintings by Pablo Picasso

Nomination a place composition rating
Review of the most famous paintings by Pablo Picasso 9 'Avignon Maidens', 1907 4.2
8 'Guernica' 4.3
7 'Two Sisters', 1902 4.4
6 'First Communion', 1896 4.5
5 'The Old Guitarist', 1903-1904 4.6
4 'Girl in front of the mirror', 1932 4.7
3 'Crying Woman', 1937 4.8
2 'Dora Maar with a Cat', 1941 4.9
1 'Nude, Green Leaves and Bust', 1932 5.0

'Avignon Maidens', 1907

Rating: 4.2

Avignon girls

Location: Museum of modern art, New York

It was from this canvas that a new creative stage began in the life of the great artist, which was marked for the whole world by the emergence of a new direction in painting – cubism. The Bohemia of Paris assessed the picture rather ambiguously. There were those who accepted the canvas with enthusiasm: among them was Georges Braque, so amazed by what he saw that, inspired, he wrote his famous 'Nude'.

But there were those who turned out to be ardent opponents of the Avignon Maidens. Among them is Matisse, who initially saw in the painting the beginning of a new era in the visual arts. But later, out of jealousy, he moved towards his opponents.

The history of the creation of the Avignon Maidens is associated with a difficult streak in Picasso's personal life: at that time he had been in a relationship with Fernanda Olivier for 9 years and began to feel weary about them. The result was his attempts to test the feelings with outside connections. According to one of the key versions, the plot of the picture is based on the artist's memories of a brothel in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. The canvas depicts five naked women. Two of them have faces that resemble African masks. The painting is painted in pink and blue: a reminder of the 'pink' and 'blue' creative periods of the genius.

In 2007, Newsweek identified the canvas as 'the most influential work of art in the past 100 years'.


Rating: 4.3


Location: Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid

The canvas was written in a record short time – less than 1 month, but at the same time it became one of the most iconic in the work of the famous artist. It is noteworthy that at one time the picture did not find a special response not only among ordinary people, but even among art critics. The main characters of 'Guernica' are a woman with a lamp, a torn horse, a defeated horseman and a mother carrying a dead child in her arms.

Creepy, tortured images, embodied in an abstract form, emphasize the hatred of the fascists for all living things and vividly convey the horror of war. It is noteworthy that Guernica was written several years before the start of a monstrous world war in its scale and cruelty. And the main reason for the creation of the work was the raid of the Luftwaffe unit on the city of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. For 3 hours the Germans dropped several thousand bombs on a tiny town with a population of 6,000. Guernica burned for 3 days.

A close look at the canvas gives rise to a feeling of closeness of hostilities, screams of pain, suffering and curses. The painting is the embodiment of anger and fears of war, it is a warning for future generations. Its essence is a reflection of the suffering of people, animals and their transformation under the influence of chaos and violence.

'Two Sisters', 1902

Rating: 4.4

Two sisters

Location: The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

The canvas was created at a time when the artist traveled a lot between Paris and Barcelona and was not going through the best period in his life. He is very poor, moreover, at this time his best friend Kasachemos suddenly passes away, deciding to commit suicide. All canvases of those years and 'Two Sisters' are filled with emptiness, pain, loneliness as well.

A considerable influence on Picasso in those years was also exerted by the social climate of the era, the sharp social contrasts of Barcelona, ​​in which anarchist ideas with a revolutionary bias flashed every now and then. Independent sentiments flashed everywhere, everyone strove for freedom, sincerely sympathized with the humiliated and insulted.

In the early years of the 20th century, Picasso actively visited orphanages, psychiatric hospitals, looking for characters for his paintings: beggars, disadvantaged people, whom society turned away from. All of them are reflected in the paintings of Pablo Picasso. The canvas 'Two Sisters' became the first in a whole series of works of that difficult period for the artist.

In the center of the plot is a meeting of a prostitute and a nun. The two figures practically embrace in a mute impulse: in their silhouettes one can feel sadness, suffering, tacit consent and tenderness. The robes of both figures are made in the same color scheme. They symbolize the world of pain, loneliness, silence.

In the picture, you can see light touches similar to medieval art: the severity, expressiveness of form and plastic are clearly traced in the depicted plot. However, this was typical for all paintings of the 'blue period' in the work of Picasso. At that time he was guided by El Greco: the images of his paintings were sublime, psychologically expressive, symbolic colors.

'First Communion', 1896

Rating: 4.5

First communion

Location: The Picasso Museum, Barcelona

In 1885, Pablo Picasso moved with his family to the Spanish capital, where he entered the School of Fine Arts. Garnelo Alda – one of the teachers of the young talent – a fairly well-known Spanish artist (specialist in the academic historical genre) had a lot of the necessary requisites for creating paintings on a similar theme. And his father advised Pablo to use the available 'tool' – to create a painting for participation in the Exhibition of Fine Arts.

15-year-old Picasso heeded the advice and wrote a real masterpiece. The painting 'First Communion' was written in a realistic manner, and with a clear transfer of the smallest details. The painting depicts the artist's sister and his parents. An important moment occurs in the girl's life, for which every child of those years prepared for a whole year: the first communion. This is a very exciting event, and Picasso managed to accurately betray all the thrill and mystery of what is happening: everything can be seen on the faces of those present.

It is noteworthy that the Spanish genius himself was not distinguished by piety, but at the same time he managed to convey in an incredible way both in the First Communion and in other works of the educational period the sacrament and seriousness of religious subjects.

The first paintings of the master of cubic painting became a valuable food for his creative growth, forming his individual style and artistic sensation. Many years later, Pierre Dax, the author of many books and articles about Picasso, asked the great cubist if he regretted painting pictures like the First Communion. To this the artist replied that such an opinion is far from the truth: 'it was very important for me then.'

'The Old Guitarist', 1903-1904

Rating: 4.6

Old guitarist

Location: Institute of the arts, Chicago

The painting is considered one of the most striking works of the Spaniard from the 'blue period' of his work. The artist created it while in the Spanish capital. This time coincided with one of the difficult periods of his life: he lived in poverty, still unknown to anyone, and was in great spiritual confusion after the suicide of his best friend Carlos Casagemas. It was after the death of Casagemas that the 'blue period' began in Pablo's creative life.

Picasso ventured to abandon academic painting and was in search of his own, individual style. All his works of that period were permeated with hopelessness, melancholy mood. The portrait images were dominated by the poor, the destitute, despised by society and sick people. The canvases often conveyed the state of mind of the artist himself.

'The Old Guitarist' is a picture of a blind musician holding a guitar in his hands – the only thing that makes sense in his life. Even the color scheme hints at the state of human soul: everything is done (including the image itself) in a pale blue scale, and only the guitar visually stands out against the general background.

The old musician is depicted in an uncomfortable position with his bare feet crossed. His figure looks slightly angular, exaggeratedly elongated, like his arms. This is the manner of the 16th century painter El Greco. In fact – a kind of tribute to the master, whom Picasso admired.

In 1926, the painting was acquired by the Chicago Museum of Art, which was a turning point in the life of the Spaniard: it was his first work acquired by the museum as a permanent exhibit. Not so long ago, X-rays of the painting were taken, showing another painting under a layer of paint: an image of a nursing nude woman, as well as a cow with a calf. This is due to the fact that while Picasso lived in poverty, he often rewrote paintings on old canvases to save money.

'Girl in front of the mirror', 1932

Rating: 4.7

Girl in front of the mirror

Location: Museum of modern art, New York

This painting by the Spanish artist depicts his young mistress and muse Maria-Teresa Walter. The main motive of the picture had several interpretations. According to one of them, the canvas clearly shows the transition of a young innocent girl to the stage of growing up and her transformation into a woman who is aware of her sexuality. Or, two essences of Mary Teresa are depicted here – day and night. According to another interpretation, a girl stands in front of a mirror, seeing in it her dark reflection, a hidden essence unknown to the outside world.

When creating the canvas, the artist used mainly intense colors, complemented by less bright shades, which made it possible to achieve visual balance. Bright colorful patterns seem to enter into dialogue with the central image – a girl who looks at her mirror image. Her face is made of two radically different halves: one is sad, concentrated, the other is like a mask, but the brightness of the colors speaks of the storm of feelings experienced.

The profile side of the face is made in a delicate pinkish-lavender shade, slightly resembles a crescent, looks innocently childish. The front part is often associated with a mature woman, embellished with makeup. Probably Walter is depicted in the picture of a pregnant woman. This is evidenced by a large and stable belly, although it can act here as a symbol of fertility. The girl's hands are directed to the mirror: she seems to be absorbed in her image and wants to touch it, at the same time being attracted by it and afraid.

In 2011, the painting was examined using X-rays to detect hidden images. The fact is that the canvas is replete with parts covered with a powerful layer of paint, which indicates the multiple processing of the work. As it turned out, the original image of Picasso's muse had a more naturalistic image: she stood with her back to the viewer, turning the smooth curves of her hips to him.

'Crying Woman', 1937

Rating: 4.8

Crying woman

Location: Tate Gallery, London

For some time, Picasso was fascinated by the theme of a crying woman and repeatedly brought this image to life in his paintings. The painting 'Crying Woman' of 1937 is considered the most complex of the series. The painting, executed in the style of analytical cubism (during this period, the artist was just beginning to move to a direction in art that later became cult), differs from many others in its incredible realism.

The canvas is considered a landmark for Spanish painting in the present time, symbolizing a pronounced anti-war theme. It was a kind of response to terror, embodied in painting. It all began with the canvas 'Guernica', which depicts the horror of the war that befell the inhabitants of the small town of the same name during the Spanish Civil War. This was followed by a whole series of paintings depicting crying women, based on one of the figures of 'Guernica'.

For the entire series of canvases, the model was the beloved at that time and the artist's muse – Dora Maar, a professional photographer and leading surrealist of the 30s. It was she who had a significant impact on the formation of the political consciousness of Picasso.

A 'crying woman' with a scarf in her hands is a universal image of mental pain and suffering. Made in the form of angular fragments collected together, in some places overlapping each other. This gives the impression that the portrait was painted simultaneously from several angles. The nature of the work is extremely flat, since the artist made no attempts to give the image depth: neither chiaroscuro, nor linear perspective, etc. were used here.

The main interpretation of the picture is the theme of the Spanish Civil War. The woman depicted in the picture is dressed formally, as if at a funeral, and her face expresses heartbreaking pain and grief. She seems to be experiencing all the horrors that have befallen the people affected by the hostilities.

The color scheme used to create the canvas remains not fully understood. The fact is that, to make the image more dramatic, Picasso used a monochrome scale: here several primary colors are included at once, complemented by auxiliary blue, orange, red, etc.

'Dora Maar with a Cat', 1941

Rating: 4.9

Dora Maar with a cat

Location: Private collection

This portrait can certainly be considered the most extraordinary depiction of Dora Maar, who for 10 years was the lover, model and muse of the great Spanish founder of Cubism. The painting was created during the period when Picasso was in Paris occupied by the Germans. At that time, there was already a clear discord in the relationship between the two lovers.

A portrait full of abstraction elements became for Picasso himself a way of expressing the emotions that filled him then. As he later confessed, Dora Maar was for him the 'personification of war' at the moment when he painted her portrait. For 9 years of marriage, Henrietta Theodora (this was actually the name of Picasso's mistress) was depicted by the artist on a huge number of canvases. Often the images looked hostile: Dora Maar resembled a melancholic, and sometimes even insane woman with unnatural eyes, distorted facial features, and strange postures.

It is noteworthy that 'Dora Maar and the Cat' is considered the least aggressive portrait of all existing: it is in this image that the multifaceted and mysterious mistress of the great genius is revealed. The model is depicted sitting on a wooden chair that looks more like a throne, and her pose is that of a goddess. The bright palette of colors and sharp lines of the dress create a special atmosphere, a kind of feeling that Dora rules this small enclosed space.

The artist turned Dora's beautiful face into a deformed caricature: the ear was under the eye, the mouth wanders in a twisted smile. A black cat is depicted on the back of the model. It is noteworthy that Dora herself did not like felines. By combining a portrait of a mistress with a cat, Picasso created a combination of feminine cunning and sexuality. It was not for nothing that he himself sometimes called his muse 'Afghan cat'.

The portrait of 'Dora Maar with a Cat' is considered not only the most valuable painting depicting the artist's mistress, but also one of the most expensive paintings in the world. In 2006, at Sotheby’s auction, it was acquired by an anonymous admirer of the Spanish genius for a whopping $ 95,216,000. It is believed that it was the Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

'Nude, Green Leaves and Bust', 1932

Rating: 5.0

Nude, green leaves and bust

Location: Tate Gallery, London / private collection

The 30s are considered the sexiest period in Picasso's life: it was then that he met the greatest passion of his life – the young Frenchwoman Marie-Teresa Walter. At the time of meeting his future passion, the artist was officially married to the Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova. Maria Teresa became the life-giving moisture that Picasso needed in an annoying, 'desert' environment.

Walter was practically a dream come true for an artist, a nourishment for his work, brought a touch of risk, masquerade to Picasso's life, and released his carnal desires. He often depicted her naked in numerous canvases. Throughout all 8 years of this forbidden relationship, the Spaniard has created many paintings, engravings, sculptures depicting his beloved.

'Nude, Green Leaves and Bust' is undoubtedly the Spanish artist's brightest work of art, created between the world wars and one of the best in 1932. The work is considered one of the most difficult among all the created images of Maria Teresa and is represented by three components.

The first – the mythical Daphne – a beautiful and innocent nymph, reclining in an accessible position and in a deep sleep. Her smooth skin has an unusual lavender hue. The second part of the painting is a bust, whose texture is similar to plaster. And, finally, the third element is the philodendron plant, as if sprouting from the fertile body of Walter. The artist himself is also present in the picture: he is presented in the form of a dark silhouette, indistinguishable at first glance, which seems to guard his muse and dominate her.

Since 1951, the painting was in the private collection of the four American collectors Brody, and only after their death was it put up for auction. This happened in 2010. The canvas was sold for an incredible amount of $ 106,482,500 to an unknown lucky man.

Although the information has not been officially confirmed, it is believed that Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich became the owner of the painting. In 2011, the owner of the valuable painting agreed to put it on display in the museum: the painting Nude, Green Leaves and Bust was given to the British Tate Museum on a 2-year lease.

Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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