Pablo Picasso, Le petit pierrot aux fleurs (Portrait of the artist's son, Paulo, as Harlequin), 1923/24,
Oil on canvas, 92,1 x 73,6 cm, © 2011 ProLitteris, Zurich
With its pale palette and delicately applied paint, Pablo Picasso´s ‘The Little Pierrot with Flowers’ appears to be a declaration of love for the fragile little figure. Meanwhile the cheery brightness of the flowers proclaims a sense of joie de vivre.
The model for this Pierrot – who in his diamond-patterned costume is actually a harlequin - was Picasso´s son Paulo born in 1921. The proud father painted his son many times, often as a Pierrot or Harlequin, recurrent themes throughout his entire body of work.
The figures of the adult Harlequin and his white-clothed rival Pierrot are based on characters in the Italian Commedia dell´Arte. Both are servants but have different personalities. The colourful harlequin is a nimble and quick-witted character while the Pierrot, dressed in white, is more reflective and somewhat ill at ease in the world – traits that have often made him a figure of identification for artists.
Picasso attached yet another importance to the children in his pictures, the portraits of his son as well as of his three younger children: that of constant change. He said: ‘This child is me myself. The person you see before you is not me any longer. I am already someone else. I am somewhere else. I am forever changing.’