Sketches of works by Velázquez

Madrid 1897-1898
Conté pencil on paper
15,7 x 21,8 cm
MPB 110.398


When Picasso was enrolled in the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid in 1897-1898, he spent much of his time making copies at the Prado Museum. For example, he painted the Copy of a Portrait of Philip IV a representation in oil of the lake in El Retiro that seeks to capture the atmosphere of Velázquez’s landscape studies of the Villa Medici, various sketches of court portraits and these Sketches of works by Velázquez, in which we find a small sketch of Las Meninas with Maria de Sarmiento, a copy of The Fable of Arachne, and an equestrian portrait of Philip IV.

Pablo Picasso

Málaga, 1881 – Mougins, 1973

In June 1895 he first visited the Prado museum with his father. In his sketchbook he made a copy of Velázquez’s The Buffoon Calabacillas and Niño de Vallecas. At his father’s prompting he enrolled at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid for 1897-1898. He soon became distanced from the Academy, preferring to frequent the Prado, where he applied for permission to copy the pictures. There is a notable copy in oils of a portrait of Philip IV by Velázquez, and a page of sketches with a copy of The Fable of Arachne and a partial copy of Las Meninas, also by Velázquez. During his second stay in Madrid, in 1901, he painted Woman in Blue, a clear reference to Velázquez’s Mariana of Austria (Museo del Prado), and presented it at the Exposición General de Bellas Artes that year. In the summer of 1935 he travelled in Spain, and in Madrid visited the Prado again. In November 1936 the government appointed him honorary director of the Prado. Between August and December 1957, at La Californie (Cannes), he painted the series Las Meninas, that were donated by the artist himself to the Museu Picasso of Barcelona in 1968.