The Barcelona Suite: Picasso at the Turn of the Century

The "Barcelona Suite" gallery in the Picasso salon at Park West Museum

The “Barcelona Suite” gallery in the Picasso salon at Park West Museum

Life wasn’t easy for Pablo Picasso at the start of his artistic career. This becomes all too apparent when examining the history behind Picasso’s famous “Barcelona Suite.”

Picasso was born in 1881. His father, Don José Ruiz Blasco, was once an aspiring artist but made his living teaching drawing at local art schools in Spain. When young Picasso first began showing signs of artistic talent as early as age 7, his father offered instruction until it became apparent that his son’s talent was surpassing his own.

According to legend, one evening, Don José returned home to find a teenage Picasso finishing one of his father’s still lifes. He was so overwhelmed by how dramatically his son had improved his painting that Don José abruptly handed over his art supplies to Picasso and declared that he would never paint again.

That moment marked a turning point both in their relationship and in Picasso’s artistic legacy.

Pablo Picasso, 1904

Photograph of Pablo Picasso (1904), public domain.


Picasso Moves to Barcelona

In 1895, Picasso’s family relocated to the city of Barcelona after the tragic death of his 7-year-old sister, Conchita. Don José found work at La Lonja, Barcelona’s Academy of Fine Arts. He persuaded the academy to accept the now 13-year-old Picasso into their advanced program—Picasso notoriously completed the school’s entrance exam in record time.

Don José quickly became the chief critic of his son’s burgeoning new artistic career. While he rented Picasso his own small studio space, he constantly interrupted his son’s work to provide pointed criticisms. This inspired frequent, furious arguments between the two.

His home life may have been tumultuous, but Picasso thrived in Barcelona. He loved the city, and its quirky inhabitants, atmosphere, and geography quickly became major thematic obsessions in his artwork.

"Danseuse Naine (Dwarf Dancer)" (1901), Pablo Picasso, Barcelona Suite

“Danseuse Naine (Dwarf Dancer)” (1901), Pablo Picasso


Three years later, Picasso’s father sent him away from Barcelona, enrolling him in one of the top art schools in Spain, the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid.

Frustrated with his father and his formal education, Picasso quickly dropped out. In 1900, Picasso left Madrid to travel to Paris in pursuit of his own artistic stardom. It is notable that, after 1900, he stopped signing his works with his father’s last name (Ruiz) and instead began using his mother’s name—Picasso.


Work on The Barcelona Suite Begins

It was during his early days in Paris that Picasso began creating his “Barcelona Suite.” These five original oil paintings depict the artist’s vibrant memories of characters he met on the streets of Barcelona in his youth.

"Madame Ricardo Canals" (1905), Pablo Picasso, Barcelona Suite

“Madame Ricardo Canals” (1905), Pablo Picasso


The paintings range in tone from somber to joyous, transitioning between Picasso’s Blue and Rose periods. As the suite progresses, you can see Picasso evolving from a sad, dejected youth to a bold, confident artist on the rise.

"The Barcelona Suite" in the Picasso gallery at Park West Museum

“The Barcelona Suite” in the Picasso gallery at Park West Museum

The five original paintings reside in the Museu Picasso in Barcelona. In 1966, in celebration of the artist’s 85th birthday, the museum published a limited-edition of offset lithographs, after the paintings from the Barcelona Suite, all hand-signed by Picasso—a fitting way to honor the artist and the city many consider to be his spiritual home.


The Park West Museum displays hand-signed lithographs of all five “Barcelona Suite” paintings in its extensive Picasso gallery, featuring 99 works from the prolific artist.

Park West Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery and museum are located at 29469 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, Michigan 48034.

Pablo Picasso Park West Museum

Picasso galleries at Park West Museum

To collect the artwork of Picasso, contact our gallery consultants at (800) 521-9654 ext. 4 during business hours or



One Response to The Barcelona Suite: Picasso at the Turn of the Century

  1. Mike Maggiano says:

    I’m proud to say I have one of the Barcelona Suite pieces in my collection. We acquired a signed litho of the Harlequin in 2015.

Leave a comment

Prove you\'re human. *

Latest News

  • Park West Foundation Honors Foster Youth Graduates from the Class of 2018

    Last month, 87 very special students celebrated their graduation from high school at the Skyline Club in Southfield, Michigan.At first glance, you’d never notice any similarities between the students, but ...
    Read More
  • Patrick Guyton Tells His Fascinating Story on the ‘Behind the Artist’ Podcast

    Every artist has a story to tell, and Patrick Guyton is no exception.This remarkable talent started out as the son of a commercial sign painter and eventually became one ...
    Read More
  • 12 Quotes from Pino on His Remarkable Career as an Artist

    Pino is truly one of the modern masters of art.From his humble beginnings in Italy to his inevitable international fame, Pino built an artistic career defined by his unforgettable ...
    Read More
  • Test Your Knowledge of 14 Park West Artists With Our Quiz

    Do you think you’re an expert when it comes to Park West artists? Then put that knowledge to the test by naming the artists who created these works.Park West Gallery ...
    Read More
  • Collect One-of-a-Kind Pino Art During Our Summer Sale

    Pino is a timeless talent—his name synonymous with romance and emotion. His artistic journey began with his childhood in Italy and eventually led him to become one of the world’s ...
    Read More
  • Auctioneer Spotlight: Andre Herselman and Marisha Jansen van Rensburg

    Park West believes that art is for everyone, and there’s no one who embodies that belief more than our onboard art auctioneers and gallery teams. When our collectors board a ...
    Read More
  • See How the Art of Norman Rockwell Defined 20th-Century Americana

    Read More
  • Artist Michael Godard Reveals the Secrets Behind 7 New Paintings

    Artist Michael Godard loves creating whimsical artwork featuring his signature olives, but there is more to his paintings than meets the eye.For every animated olive and cocktail there is ...
    Read More
  • 2018 MI Great Artist Competition Begins August 1, Adds People’s Choice Award

    Since 2012, the MI Great Artist competition has highlighted some of the best visual artists in southeastern Michigan.The competition not only provides more than $16,000 in cash and prizes to ...
    Read More
  • Floating Works of Cruise Ship Art are Big Hits on Social Media

    People love posting vacation photos on Instagram and Twitter, but, thanks to a relatively new trend in the cruise industry, more and more people are posting pictures of themselves posing ...
    Read More
  • 7 Things You Might Not Know About Illuminated Manuscripts

    An illuminated manuscript is a beautifully crafted book, but it’s also so much more—it’s a literal piece of art history.Illuminated manuscripts are hand-crafted books with pages that feature elaborately decorated ...
    Read More
  • Park West Gallery Launches New ‘Behind the Artist’ Podcast for Art Lovers

    Behind every great artist, there’s an equally great story. Those stories are the inspiration for Behind the Artist, a fascinating new podcast series from Park West Gallery.Fans of podcasts like ...
    Read More