Look at the Harlequins!May 15, 2009
Leaning Harlequin. 1901.
As it turns out, ol’ Pablo P. was rather fond of characters from the Commedia dell’ Arte, with special emphasis on Harlequin. He painted him many times throughout his career, seeming to find something of interest in the varieties of his costume and demeanour. Also, when painting a stock character of this sort, it’s interesting to question whether these pictures are of the imagined character of Harlequin himself in action, or of people in costume, as they would be at Carnival. Here below, I’ve collected the examples of Picasso’s Harlequin paintings I’ve been able to assemble. I’ve left them in chronological order, because it’s interesting to see his take evolve over the years. It’s curious to think why he would return to this character so often. It’s tempting to say that the great number of paintings he made of it in his early years were in part because the costume itself, with its coloured diamonds, formed a way to begin to play with colour blocks and geometry within the realm of realism, that would become more fully realised with his later work. Ok. No more thinking about this. Paintings!
In ‘Lapin Agile’ or Harlequin with a Glass. 1905.
Harlequin Sitting on a Red Couch. 1905.
Note the lack of colour on this one’s costume. Why did he still call him Harlequin?
Acrobat and Young Harlequin. 1905.
This one is one of my favourites and was the impetus for this collection.
Harlequin with a Guitar. 1918.
The Seated Harlequin. 1923.
Paulo, Picasso’s Son, as Harlequin. 1924.
Paulo, Picasso’s Son, as Pierrot. 1925.
I’m perfectly aware that this isn’t Harlequin, but I just couldn’t resist putting up this picture to pair with the prior one.
Images thanks to Olga’s Gallery.