La Misereuse accroupie
(The Crouching Beggar),
1902. Oil on canvas.
© Picasso Estate /
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
The Crouching Beggar is part of Pablo Picasso's Blue Period, which lasted for approximately three years and coincided with the artist's first visits to Paris. Of Picasso's early works held in Canada, this painting is the pre-eminent example from this period. Picasso received his formal art education in academies in Barcelona and Madrid. It was his first trip to Paris in 1900 that changed the course of his career. Living in the colourful Montmartre district, he became acquainted with members of the art and literary communities. The tragic loss of a friend the year before, as well as Picasso's own personal struggles, are reflected in the sombre palette of this canvas. The powerful blue and grey tones connect us with the subjects who populated his compositions during this period: the people who lived on and off the street, including prostitutes and beggars and those who frequented the night-time establishments in Picasso's neighbourhood.