Pablo Picasso, The Tragedy, 1903, Oil on wood, 105 x 69 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington.
The Blue Period of Picasso is the period between 1900 and 1904, when he painted essentially monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green, only occasionally warmed by other colors. These somber works seem to reflect his experience of relative poverty and instability at that time, depicting beggars, street prostitutes, drunks, the old and frail and the blind. The period's starting point is uncertain, though it may have begun in Spain in the spring of 1901 or in Paris in the second half of that year. Picasso was probably influenced by a journey through Spain and by the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas. The Tragedy is among Picasso’s most famous and beloved paintings from his Blue Period. It depicts two adults and a child, presumably a family, standing barefoot and poorly dressed on the seashore. Picasso doesn’t explain who these people are or what is going on. We are left to speculate about it and to contemplate on feelings of hopelessness, suffering and loss that the elongated figures in the painting might endure. Some have suggested that the sad, pensive and introspective mood of this picture is the result of Picasso's brooding on the suicide of Casagemas.
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