The National Prado Museum and the Museu Picasso of Barcelona collaborate in a special exchange. Both art galleries are going to lend each other works to relate them to their collections. Starting today, the Picasso Museum houses three paintings by three artists who influenced the painter for different reasons, three pieces by Velázquez, El Greco and Muñoz Degrain from the Prado. Which in turn will receive four works by Picasso that will be exhibited starting next May 21 within the framework of Art and social transformations in Spain (1885-1910), an exhibition that proposes to analyze, explain and disseminate the importance of the transformations of the Spanish art, a consequence of the changes in society in a key period of its history.

In the exchange to Barcelona, ​​three paintings by artists important to Picasso will arrive: The Sierra de las Agulles, seen from the Cavall Bernat mountain (1864) by Antonio Muñoz Degrain, who was his teacher, the Niño de Vallecas by Diego Velázquez and Portrait of a gentleman by El Greco, authors that Picasso admired during his stay in Madrid and who marked his later work. The works will be exhibited in the same room under the title Greco, Velázquez, inspire me! Picasso invites the Prado Museum and they can be seen from today.

Muñoz Degrain’s painting is significant. During the academic year 1897-1898, Picasso consolidated his learning at the special school of Painting, Sculpture and Engraving in Madrid, where he was his Landscape teacher. In fact, Picasso had declared himself his disciple when presenting the work Science and Charity (1897) at the General Exhibition of Fine Arts, held in Madrid that same year. However, Picasso soon developed a critical attitude towards official education and replaced classes with visits to the Prado, where he copied, above all, works by Velázquez, Goya and El Greco, and by wandering around Madrid, as demonstrated by the drawings in the Parque del Retiro and its street scenes. Months later, in Horta de Sant Joan, he would write on a drawing: “Greco, Velázquez, inspire me!” His interest in these authors would remain throughout his life.

El Greco’s first influence on Picasso’s work is visible in some paintings with long vertical strokes made in Barcelona in 1899, such as Man in the style of El Greco. During his stay in Barcelona, ​​Picasso came into contact with Rusiñol and Utrillo, admirers and defenders of El Greco’s work. The interest that he felt in the artist of Greek origin will become especially evident at the time with the rhythms, disproportions and elongation of the characters and at the beginning of cubism. The influence of Velázquez on Picasso’s work was once again noted in Picasso’s mature work, especially in the Las Meninas series (1957).

For its part, the Prado receives four Picassos for a unique exhibition that will review the notable social transformations of Spain at the end of the 19th century, a turbulent period that saw the first major workers’ demands and represented the definitive loss of the overseas colonies. The evolution of art allows us to notice the incorporation of new issues and a different stylistic treatment. Topics that, for the first time, affected the reality of all social classes. The triumph of the naturalistic style led to the capture of everyday issues treated with objective truthfulness, in a parallel way to the naturalistic novel. Based on the Medal of Honor received at the Universal Exhibition in Paris for the work of Luis Jiménez Aranda, A hospital room during the visit of the chief doctor, the Spanish artists addressed these issues, in which Sorolla stood out.

Along with this, there was a more expressive reaction, which included artists such as Darío de Regoyos, Isidro Nonell and Pablo Picasso, who did not succeed in the official channels but which was linked to the most modern renovation in force in Paris and other European capitals. An artistic orientation that is based on naturalism and that, unlike other European countries, had not been the subject of specific exhibitions until now.