‘Lola Ruiz Picasso’, the sister of

Till 27 February 2022 the Picasso Museum in Barcelona boasts an exhibition dedicated to Lola Ruiz Picasso as a tribute to the painter’s sister and her zeal in preserving his work, as well as demonstrating the love they shared throughout their lives.

Maria Dolores Ruiz Picasso, known familiarly as Lola, was born in Malaga in 1884 and was a model par excellence of the artist’s early portraits. The first one dates from December 1st 1894.

Pablo Picasso. Lola with her doll. Sketchbook of Corunna, 1894. A Coruña, 1894. Graphite pencil
on paper.

Picasso was always very close to Lola, especially after the death of their little sister Conchita in 1895. She became one of his favourite models, remaining in the iconography of the artist until 1900. Then the Blue Period began and Lola lost her place among the artist’s symbolist subjects.

The first section of the exhibition is dedicated to these early portraits with works from the Museum’s collection and the family’s collections.

In 1909, when Lola had already moved to Barcelona, she married the neuropsychiatrist Juan Bautista Vilató Gómez. They had six children, two of whom were also to become painters: José and Javier Vilató Ruiz. A year later they moved to the Balaeric island of Mahon, where her husband worked in a Health laboratory, to return to Barcelona after three years.

Pablo Picasso. Lola, the Artist’s Sister. Barcelona,
c. 1899. Charcoal and blue and red coloured pencils
on paper.

After the death of Pablo’s and Lola’s father, their mother María took up residence with the Vilató family. At that time Pablo had already been living in Paris for quite some years. He kept up ties with his family and over the years visited them on several occasions, maintaining in between an epistolary relationship. Part of the exhibition consists of his correspondence with Lola.

The works left by Picasso in Barcelona, works from childhood and youth carried out before his move to Paris as well as the paintings created during his stay in Catalonia in 1917, were kept by his family. María Picasso, Lola and the Vilató brothers guarded the painter’s work until the collection moved to the Museu Picasso, in the Carrer Montcada, after the artist’s donation in 1970. By then Lola had already died: she had passed away in 1958 aged 74.

Commemorative plaque in the Pati Aguilar of the museum:
Barcelona to the parents and sister of Pablo Picasso. October 1988

Photographs of Lola from all stages of her life are shown in a separate section of the exhibition, while another one is devoted to the works that Lola herself painted and which are conserved in the collection of the Museu Picasso as part of the donation.

The curator of this exhibition is Malén Gual, conservator of the Museu Picasso until June 2020.

Source: Picasso Museum.

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