There is something not commonly known about Picasso, and that is about his summer holidays in Malaga when he was a teenager. Spanish children usually had a 3-month summer holiday (they still have it now!), and Picasso was one of them. He left Malaga in 1890 when he was 9 years old. His family left for good as a big crisis hit Malaga at that time. But they would end up coming back on holidays on five different occasions.
Having born in Malaga myself, and having spent here my summer school holidays, I can get a very close picture on how Picasso lived these holidays. Get back in touch with your family and friends, late night familiar gatherings, joyful lunches at the beach or on the countryside… And of course, a summer love.
His first summer holidays in Malaga were in 1895, when he was 14 years old. This time the whole family stayed at his aunt’s house. In fact, at that place they already lived his grandmother and two of his aunts. This house is still standing at the very city centre, near the Plaza de la Constitucion. It is at Plaza Mitjana, very much known for youngsters who love going out there until late.
But Picasso was not only interested in partying at the summer season. Drawing was his passion, and that is something he couldn’t avoid even if he was on holidays. His first important painting that summer was “El Pescador”. His father had paid a fisherman for posing as a model for his son. The result was stunning, so that Jose Ruiz, Picasso’s father, egged on his son to take part of a provincial contest of Fine Arts. And Pablo ended up winning a bronze medal, which came to be the first recognition in his whole career.
Of course, he enjoyed a lot playing with his cousins. We have to bear in mind that his family was quite big (only his father had 10 siblings) and the familiar feeling in Spain was quite strong. In fact, still is, and is like you surely have seen in “The Godfather” films. Among his big family, a cousin of him had a special hook on him. In fact, it is considered Picasso’s first love. Her name was Carmen Blasco and they met several times along his summer holidays, but nothing serious happened in the end.
In the summer of 1896 he was going to draw another of his great paintings of that period “La tia Pepa”. It was a painting reflecting one of his favourite aunts, called Pepa, and is amazing how he captured the sobriety and seriousness of her temper. This aunt was going to die little time after this picture, so he could go to her funeral also that at that summer.
In 1897, Picasso’s family spent their holidays in a countryside villa (normally known as Cortijo in Spain). This was owned by Picasso’s godparents, and this is where Picasso firstly came to be in touch with nature and learned the pleasure of painting outdoors. He already had painted another great picture “Science and Charity”. This was awarded at a National Painting Contest in Madrid. He arrived in Malaga with this great news, so that his uncle Salvador, excited about this recognition, decided to pay his nephew his studies at the Fine Arts School of Madrid (the best of its kind in Spain at that time).
1899 was the last time Picasso’s family came back to spend a summer holiday. Picasso was going to come back next year with one of his best friends, but that was a different kind of visit. An early-adult Picasso, spending Christmas time without his family, in a visit which came to be his final farewell to Malaga.
Due to the later historic events happened in Spain, the civil war and the later dictatorship, Picasso didn’t have the chance to come back to see his home town again. That was why he would seek, in his final days, the Mediterranean Sea and its light. So he moved then to southern France, that reminded him so much his childhood and summer holidays in Malaga.
But let’s go back to the beginning. We still don’t know the reason that made Picasso’s family to come back to Malaga, as they left for La Coruña for good. In 1895, his younger sister died from a disease. That really knocked the family’s mood. Added to the fact that La Coruña, a city in Northern Spain, where it usually rains 3 days out of 4, made them feel depressed and wanting to get a change. José Ruiz looked for another job hoping they could move to another more lively and cheerful city. They finally moved to Barcelona, but before that, they needed to soothe their feelings. This is why they finally ended up having a summer holiday in sunny Malaga. And once they’ve tried, they had to come back!
This is one of the stories we tell in our “Following Picasso” tour. We take you to some of the places mentioned above and show you the pictures drawn at that time by Picasso, so you can fully understand the whole story. If you want more information, just visit our web or contact us.