Artwork of the week: Suite 347

Pablo Picasso, “Suite 347”, 1968
Pablo Picasso, “Suite 347”, 1968
Grabado sobre papel
Fundación Bancaja, Valencia
© Sucesión Picasso, VEGAP, Madrid, 2023

In 1968, when Picasso was already 86 years old and his artistic legacy had left deep traces in the art world, the Spanish genius experienced a surprising creative renaissance. In a period that lasted about six months, Picasso produced a series of prints totaling 347 pieces. Hence its name, Suite 347, which has been highlighted for its autobiographical character and its content is related to the literary character of Celestina from the Tragicomedy of Calisto and Melibea, attributed to Fernando de Rojas.

Approximately 66 of the images are dedicated to exploring the theme of the well-known procuress. Since his youth, the painter from Malaga had an enormous interest in the work of Fernando de Rojas, printed at the dawn of the 16th century, of which he owned two old copies.

The representations reflect an exploration of his own evolution and life trajectory. Through a multidimensional lens, Picasso takes elements from his life and his own artistic repertoire, fusing them with the literary figure. With subtle humor, he includes himself in some of the prints, sometimes sharing space with Celestina herself. The artist seems to draw a parallel between his own old age, marked by the ailments of advanced age, and the figure of the trotaconventos.

The engravings are full of historical and cultural quotations, references to the painter's own childhood, Greco-Roman mythology, similarities with the work of other artists such as Rembrandt or Manet, or historical figures such as De Gaulle. In these correspondences, the characters often appear as artists or as part of circus scenes.

From a technical perspective, Suite 347 demonstrates Picasso's mastery of the technique of engraving as a means of expressing his ideas with an extensive knowledge of the possibilities of etching.

The Bancaja Foundation in Valencia houses these works and has preserved an invaluable testimony of Picasso's creative mind during the last period of his life.


Patio Herreriano, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Español

Ayuntamiento de Buitrago de Lozoya

Fundación Bancaja