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When I say Pablo Picasso, you probably think something like this, Picasso's painting of an accordion player. You might be tempted to think that the guy was a little short on the ability required to depict a realistic human being.
But Picasso was not only an innovator, one of the fathers of the Cubist movement, so well exemplified by the painting above, but a master of the human form and a brilliant painter by any standard.
When still in his late teens, Picasso was already creating beautiful works in the styles of the times, and had begun to achieve some success.
But everything changed with the suicide of his good friend Carlos Casagemas, who shot himself in the head at a Parisian cafe. Casagemas had unsuccessfully tried to shoot his girlfriend, Germaine Gargallo, married at the time to Ramon Pichot, another friend of Picasso's.
According to Picasso, "I started painting in blue when I learned of Casagemas's death.'"
The Blue Period includes some of Picasso's most melancholy and evocative portraits. A theme of blindness and sorrow runs through many of them, including this, "La Celestina," of a Barcelona madame representing a notorious predecessor in the profession from a 15th century Spanish play.
Note the milky cataract in her left eye.
Picasso also painted a sad portrait of his friend Casagemas on his deathbed, which is considered part of the Blue Period but looks stylistically more like a Van Gogh in its texture and contrast of warm and cool tones.