Pablo Picasso was not born in France, but he was so emblematic of the art scene in Paris, that he has to be on the list of the greatest artists in France. With a varied neo-classical style, he became one of the best-known figures in the 20th-century art world and beyond.
He first visited Paris at the age of 19 and would move to France, dying at the age of 91 in Mougins, France. When Picasso passed away, he was considered a long-time resident and as a result, French succession laws applied to his inheritance. As long as the artwork is regarded as a significant contribution to the cultural heritage of France, France allows heirs to pay inheritance taxes in the form of works of art rather than cash.
As such, his family donated thousands of works of art (paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, and notebooks), along with personal papers, correspondence, and more. They also donated works that he had collected from his fellow artists including Renoir, Cézanne, Degas, Rousseau, Seurat, and Matisse.
While some of these works are now at Musée d’Orsay and the Orangerie, the largest collection of Picassos are here at the Musée Nationale Picasso.
Address: Hôtel Salé on rue de Thorigny, in the Marais district, 75003 Paris. You can get your skip-the-line tickets for the Picasso museum here.
Inside the museum
The museum is located inside a hotel particulier (meaning “private mansion”) built between 1656 and 1659. It is called Hôtel Salé, where salé means “salt”. This is because one of the original owners was a tax agent who became rich collecting taxes on the sale of salt.
Hôtel Salé was expropriated by the State during the French Revolution, eventually becoming the property of the City of Paris and classified as a monument historique.
Picasso lived till the age of 91, and knew the value of his collection. He is believed to have said:
“I am the greatest collector of Picassos in the world.”Pablo Picasso
Because of his planning and his careful deliberations, the Musée Picasso has over 5,000 works of art by Picasso including 3,700 drawings and works on paper, painted ceramics, sculptures, and canvas paintings.
Maya and the family
Pablo Picasso’s father, Don José Ruiz, was also a painter who specialized in naturalistic depictions of birds and was a professor of art and a curator of a small museum. As is Spanish tradition, Pablo Picasso has the name of his mother, María Picasso.
Picasso himself would go on to be married twice and had many mistresses. (He had 4 children by 3 different women.) He often painted works involving his eldest daughter Maya as well as other members of his family.
A large section in Musée Picasso is dedicated to the collection donated by Maya Ruiz-Picasso, along with photos and video of the family. In addition, donations came from the estate of Picasso’s 2nd wife, Jacqueline Roque, who had over 400 portraits painted of her.
Because of the extensive family contribution, there are numerous personal photos and anecdotes about the great artist in Musée Picasso, over 3 floors of the building.
There are also special exhibitions of up and coming artists in the basement of the building. You can get your skip-the-line tickets for the Picasso museum here.
If you enjoyed that article, you may enjoy reading more about top things to do in Paris. A bientôt!