The Tragedy, Pablo Picasso

Some of the most famous paintings in museums, are the pieces that were painted by the artist, Pablo Picasso. o­ne of his paintings titled The Tragedy, is o­n display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

Picasso painted The Tragedy in 1903 and it depicts a man, woman, and child by the sea. It has a melancholy mood to it and what tragedy really occurred is not clear.

The artwork is done in the deep blue colors that Picasso became known for painting during what is called Picasso's Blue Period. This period started after a good friend of Picasso named Casagemas committed suicide.

When The Tragedy was subject to examination in the conservation studio, there were clues that another picture was present under the work. When Infrared reflectography was used o­n the work, it showed that lettering and caricatures were sketched directly o­n the wood. The faces were elongated and similar to Pablo Picasso's drawings in his 1899 sketchbooks. This suggests the panel that The Tragedy was painted o­n was in the studio for approximately 4 years.

A x-radiograph was also used to examine the painting. This examination showed a painting containing a horse and a bullfighting ring. This was typical of Pablo Picasso's 1901 bullfighting paintings. Some of the bright blue paint from this picture can be seen coming through the dark blue paint in The Tragedy.

In addition to the x-radiograph, an infrared study was done. A different composition was discovered that included a horse that was prancing, a little figure, and legs from an additional figure.

Examinations showed that the panel was used a minimum of 4 times. Many artists would do this because of lack of funds or they were not satisfied with their work. They would usually scrape the panel and start over. However, Picasso did not do this, and o­ne painting would inspire him to make a different painting from the images. He would often leave clues that other paintings existed o­n the same panel.