Juan Legua

Juan Gris Spanish

Not on view

Gris moved from Madrid to Paris in 1906 and settled at the Bateau-Lavoir, a building at 13 rue Ravignan in the Montmartre district that served as home and studio to several artists, including Pablo Picasso. Though he supported himself initially as an illustrator of satirical cartoons, by 1911 he had become a central figure in the development of Cubism. Having witnessed the birth of the movement in 1907 through Picasso and Georges Braque, Gris drew on their innovations to deconstruct the subjects of his paintings, but rapidly evolved his own rigorously gridded structure and bright color palette.

Juan Legua is one of the artist’s earliest Cubist paintings and belongs to a series of pre-World War I portraits of close friends and acquaintances. The canvas depicts a sitter who was first identified as a Spanish journalist living in Paris, though "Juan Legua" is now thought to have been a pen name. Gris represents his subject with a smoking pipe, lapelled suit, prominent chin, and parted hair, granting him distinct characteristics.

A transitional work, the painting demonstrates Gris’s evolution as he grappled with Cubist abstraction and the breakdown of continuous planes. Legua’s figure and crisp attire are easily recognizable, though the sitter’s face loses clarity through fragments and facets. The darkened background dissolves into a diagonal grid, while remaining distinct from the sitter and foreground. The artist maintains the subdued, neutral hues established by Braque and Picasso, although his later works were subsequently characterized by vibrant color.

Juan Legua, Juan Gris (Spanish, Madrid 1887–1927 Boulogne-sur-Seine), Oil on canvas

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.