Picasso’s Harlequin

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Harlequin with his hands crossed (Jacinto Salvado), 1923Harlequin with his hands crossed (Jacinto Salvado), 1923


“Harlequin with his hands crossed,” featured above, could well be Picasso’s finest Harlequin. He is not wearing his lozenges. In fact, the colours have bled. Nor is there a mask, except a reminder. Harlequin’s brow is floured.

Seated Harlequin, 1923Seated Harlequin, 1923

In the Harlequin featured to the left, no mask is suggested, but the lines are somewhat thicker, barely. The painting is also dated 1923. These two depictions of the Harlequin therefore follow the production of Stravinsky‘s Pulcinella, first performed in 1920. Both characters are zanni, or servants, but Harlequin is the smarter zanno. Picasso’s depictions of Harlequin do not show a theatrical Harlequin. Picasso’s Harlequins are off-stage and the artist’s depictions are portraits of distinguished individuals. It is difficult to associate these Picasso Harlequins with British Harlequinades.

Harlequin as motif: A Family HArlequin

Harlequin is a significant motif in Picasso’s work where…

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