An itinerary dedicated to the Spanish artistic genius among the characteristic streets of Malaga.
(by Holger Uwe Schmitt, CC BY-SA 4.0 Wikimedia Commons)
Malaga, is nowadays an influential city in the south of Spain in the region of Andalusia. It was founded by the Phoenicians in 800 BCE, and due to its strategic location, it changed hands to the Greeks in the 6th century BCE and then to the Romans in 202 BCE after the conclusion of the Punic Wars.
Its original name in Roman times, Flavia Malacita, was already a crucial maritime junction. Nevertheless, it continued its historical course under Arab rule of considerable prosperity and was among the last Spanish cities to succumb to the hegemony of successive Catholic kings.
Malaga, like many other cities in the 1600s, experienced a dark moment in its history with the advent of the plague, but with the new years of the 1900s, recovery did not take long to arrive thanks to tourism.
Among its countless vicissitudes, Malaga has the immense fortune of being the birthplace of one of the world’s greatest, most influential and innovative artists, Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, simply known as Pablo Picasso.
He was born on 25 October 1881, in a former convent converted into a residential palace (Casa de Campos). Let us start our visit from here, from this palace overlooking Plaza de la Merced no. 15.
Here, in the centre of Malaga, was born Pablo, from his father Don Josè Ruiz y Blasco, also a painter and teacher but of modest standing, and Maria Picasso y Lopez de Onate, a woman of Italian origin (Picasso’s surname is typical of the city of Genoa).
He began to take his first steps in the art of drawing thanks to the influence of his father José.
The young Publo remained in Malaga until he was about 10 years old and then moved with his family to Galicia in Coruna in 1891, for a more remunerative job offered to the father. The mother had two more daughters, but the last born unfortunately contracted tuberculosis, which was fatal to her.
In 1895, the Ruiz family moved again to another city, Barcelona, for a new job for his father and it was in this city that Pablo began his true artistic career.
Casa de Campos, Pablo Picasso’s birthplace and now home to the Fundación Picasso was declared a historic-artistic monument of national interest in 1983 and was included in Spain’s museum system by the Ministry of Culture in 1991. Plaques are affixed to the outside of the Palace testifying to the period when the artist lived in this building.
Inside the house, one can admire mementoes, memorabilia and two collections of works by the famous artist and works by his father, a painter and artist from that cultural period in Malaga.
The collections allow us to admire the portrait of ‘Ol’ga Khochlova’ (or Olga Picasso), a Russian-Ukrainian dancer and the artist’s first wife, ‘Jacqueline sentada’, one of the four hundred works dedicated to his second wife, Jacqueline Roque, whom he considered a source of inspiration for his art. Last but not least is also possible to take a close look to the unique ‘Portrait of Lola’, depicting his sister.
Everything that was close to Pablo Picasso and that was part of his family’s childhood breathes here. It is the ideal place to understand how Pablo Picasso’s roots were firmly anchored in this city and always kept him very close to his origins despite long periods of the artist’s absence from Malaga.
Before crossing the Plaza de la Merced and heading towards the Church of Santiago, one can imagine, sitting on a bench inside the square, Pablo Picasso admiring his square where, as a child, he most likely played, ran and probably already drew with his finger on the dusty ground.