The Watering Place

Pablo Picasso Spanish

Not on view

Following the completion of Family of Saltimbanques (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.) in the winter of 1905–6, Picasso planned another ambitious picture. While it does not exist in a definitive version, the studies for it suggest a grand, elegiac painting on a very large scale. The Met's sketch is the most impressive of the remaining studies showing the entire composition of nude adolescents washing and watering their horses in an arid, mountainous landscape.

It can be said that the The Watering Place is a temporal sequel to the Family of Saltimbanques, the circus figures having stripped to wash themselves and their horses. (In earlier studies, the principal boy leading a horse wears a saltimbanque's costume.) Picasso relied on a number of specific sources to create his picture, from a painting by Gauguin (itself a reworking of a composition by Degas) to quotations from the Parthenon frieze and works by Paul Cézanne, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, and William Holman Hunt.

The Watering Place, Pablo Picasso (Spanish, Malaga 1881–1973 Mougins, France), Gouache on tan paper board

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