Specific characteristics of
Woman in Blue with a Beret

Woman in Blue with a Beret presents all the characteristics of Picasso’s blue period in Barcelona from April 1903 to April 1904.

  • Three quarter face portrait, painted half-length . The face in the forefront , haloed in blue.
  • A predominance of blue with shades spanning from dark blue to luminous blue reflections, obtained simply by the use of two blue pigments, namely: cobalt blue and Prussian blue. « The extraordinary blue of the Barcelona paintings» (Pierre Daix) is to be found in this portrait, this blue obtained thanks to the quality of the pigments made in Spain at that time. More, the scientific analysis of the pigments revealed that Picasso mixed with these blue pigments some touches of yellow.
  • The outlines of the volumes in black-blue are already well defined.
  • The restraint and sadness in the clothing and in the hairstyle, which are in gloomy blue, dark blue veering towards dark violet. Luminous sheens play on this dark blue. This portrait corresponds exactly to the relationship « face - cape - hood » so well described by Pierre Daix.
  • The face and lips of Woman in Blue with a Beret become brighter thanks to the use by Picasso of pink pigments brushed while still wet on the mat white background. This method is found in many portraits painted in Barcelona between April 1903 and April 1904.
  • The line of the arch of the eyebrows continues until the root of the nose.
  • The nose and mouth have a lot in common with Picasso’s. A study by the Metropolitan Museum of New York underline « that it is easy to find in the portraits painted by Picasso features of his own face ». The resemblance of the nose and the mouth of Woman in Blue with a Beret with Picasso’s is not surprising.
  • The look is in a vivid blue, piercing, magnetic and has a great force of expression.
  • The eyes, in contrast with the « Spanish » eyes in which the pupil is drowned in the iris, are perfectly drawn in details. These eyes are found in several paintings of the 1903-1904 period.
  • On the portrait of Woman in Blue with a Beret, one should notice the coiled plaits on each side of the face. This hairstyle was usual for the women at that time, who had long hair and coiled them either in a bun or parted them in the middle and swept back round the sides. The coiled buns painted by Picasso in 1903 are different from those of other years. These coils recall of the spirals which Picasso depicts all through his life and of which his mother says « that he started to draw spirals before speaking ». They remind him of a sort of sugar cake called torruella. (Roland Penrose)
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1. Analysis of the pigments
2. Radiographic examination
3. The Blue Period
4. Face - Cape - hood
5. Specific characteristics of Woman in Blue with a Beret