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A painting of a woman, seated, holding an infant to her chest.

The painting shows a woman, seated on the floor, her back to the wall, facing left. She is resting her right cheek on the head of the infant she cradles in her arms. She is wearing a long blue robe, a veil on her head, her eyes are closed, she is barefoot. The wall behind her is dark blue, a lighter patch is to the left behind her head. There is patterned section with folds and horizontal and cross-hatched lines in the right upper quarter of the painting. The floor is light brown and gray with strokes of lighter blue.

Gallery Text

Following his visit to the Saint-Lazare prison-hospital, an institution for Parisian prostitutes with venereal disease, Picasso produced a number of paintings of destitute mothers embracing their small children. This is the largest of this group of works dating from the artist’s “Blue Period” (1901–4); they unite contemporary social concerns with an iconic Christian theme. The mother’s attenuated limbs speak to Picasso’s close study of the work of earlier artists, particularly El Greco.

Like many paintings in this gallery, this one was executed on a reused canvas, and another composition lies beneath this scene. That painting is a portrait of Picasso’s friend, the poet Max Jacob, who sits in his study surrounded by books. Some evidence of the image is still visible, particularly the contours of the face, which is roughly the same size as the mother’s head and is located above her knees.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Spanish (Malaga, Spain 1881 - 1973 Mougins, France)
Mother and Child
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Maternité
Alternate Title: The Sad Mother
Work Type
c. 1901
Persistent Link


Level 1, Room 1220, European Art, 19th–20th century, Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
112 x 97.5 cm (44 1/8 x 38 3/8 in.)
framed: 130.8 x 117.2 x 7.6 cm (51 1/2 x 46 1/8 x 3 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: u.r.: Picasso; l.l. [faintly] Picasso
  • inscription: on key in center of stretcher, in graphite: #9325


Recorded Ownership History
Pablo Ruiz Picasso; to [Ambroise Vollard]. [Carroll Galleries, New York, (? - 1924), sold]; to John Quinn, New York NY, sold (by his estate); to [Paul Rosenberg, Paris]. Baron Shigetaro Fukushima, Paris, (1926 - 1933 at latest).Maurice Wertheim, New York, 1937 -1951), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1951.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest from the Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
© Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art


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Publication History

  • John Quinn, 1870-1924, Collection of Paintings, Water Colors, Drawings & Sculpture, Pidgeon Hill Press (Huntington, NY, 1926), pp. 12, 88
  • Memorial Exhibition of Representative Works... from the John Quinn Collection, exh. cat., Art Center (New York, NY, 1926)
  • Max Jacob, "Souvenirs sur Picasso", Cahiers d'Art (1927), vol. VI
  • Eugenio D'Ors, Pablo Picasso, Editions des Chroniques du Jour and E. Weyhe (Paris and New York, 1930), repr. pl. 3
  • Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Cahiers d'Art (Paris, France, 1932), repr., vol. I, pl. 57, p. 115
  • Pablo Picasso, exh. cat., Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Hartford, CT, 1934), repr. no. 8
  • Genaro Estrada, Genio y Figura de Picasso (Mexico, 1936), p. 43
  • [Reproduction only], Art News, (April 1937)., repr. on cover
  • Picasso, Forty Years of His Art, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY, 1939), no. 17, repr. p. 31
  • Alfred M. Frankfurter, "Today's Collectors: Modern Milestones", Art News (June 1946), vol. XLV, no. 4, p. 63; repr. in b/w p. 65
  • French Painting since 1870, lent by Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1946), repr. p. 51
  • Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Picasso, Fifty Years of His Art, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY, 1946), repr. p. 25
  • Picasso Before 1907, exh. cat., Knoedler Galleries (New York, NY, 1947), repr. pl. 7
  • La Peinture Française Depuis 1870: Collection Maurice Wertheim, exh. cat., Tom Taylor (Québec, Canada, 1949), pp. 55-57, repr. p. 56
  • A. Cirici-Pellicer, Picasso avant Picasso, P. Cailler (Geneva, Switzerland, 1950), p. 158, 121
  • George A. Flanagan, How to Understand Modern Art, Thomas Y. Crowell Company and The Studio Publications Incorporated (New York, NY, 1951), repr. in b/w p. 216, fig. 66
  • "19th and 20th Century Art", Think (September 1952), pp. 18-19, 32. repr.
  • Wilhelm Boeck and Jaime Sabartès, Picasso, W. Kohlhammer (Stuttgart, Germany, 1955), pp. 123, 458, 586
  • Antonina Vallentin, Pablo Picasso, A. Michel (Paris, France, 1957), p. 57, 449
  • Roland Penrose, Picasso: His Life and Work, Harper and Brothers Publishers (New York, NY, 1958), repr. in b/w fig. 6, pl. II
  • The Maurice Wertheim Catalogue: Modern French Art-- Monet to Picasso, exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC, 1960), p. 35, repr. p. 37
  • Anthony Blunt and Phoebe Pool, Picasso: the Formative Years: A Study of His Sources, New York Graphic Society (Greenwich, CT, 1962), p. 105
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, exh. cat., The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX, 1962), p. 38, pl. 14
  • [Unidentified article], Presbyterian Life (December 15, 1964), vol. 17, no. 24, repr. in color p. 22
  • Helen Kay, Picasso's World of Children, Doubleday & Co. (New York, NY, 1965), repr.
  • Pierre Daix and Georges Boudaille, Picasso: Blue and Rose Periods, Idees et Calendes (Neuchatel, Switzerland, 1966), repr. p. 203
  • [Unidentified article], The Episcopalian (January 1967), v. 132, no. 1, repr. on cover
  • M. Ravesz-Alexander, Eva, Maria, Venus, Mouton (The Hague, Netherlands, 1968), repr.
  • B. L. Reid, The Man from New York: John Quinn and His Friends, Oxford University Press (NY) and Oxford University Press (UK) (New York, NY, 1968), pp. 207-208, 655
  • Frederick B. Deknatel, "Pablo Picasso, Mother and Child", Nihon Keizai-Shimbun (Tokyo, Japan, December 1970?), repr. in color p. 21
  • Sidney Finkelstein, Der Junge Picasso, VEB Verlag der Kunst (Dresden, Germany, 1970), repr. as no. 63
  • Jean Leymarie, Picasso: Metamorphose et Unité, Skira (Geneva, Switzerland, 1971), repr. p. 10
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, exh. cat., Maine State Museum (Augusta, ME, 1972), repr. no. 25
  • Frederick B. Deknatel, "A Lost Portrait of Max Jacob by Picasso", Fogg Art Museum Annual Report 1972-1974, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1976), pp. 37-42, repr. p. 39
  • Judith Zilczer, 'The Noble Buyer': John Quinn, Patron of the Avant-Garde, exh. cat., Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, D.C, 1978), p. 32, p. 176
  • Mary Mathews Gedo, Picasso: Art as Autobiography, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL and London, England, 1980), repr. in b/w p. 10
  • Josep Palau i Fabre, Picasso, the Early Years, 1881-1907, Rizzoli (New York, NY, 1981), repr. in b/w, p. 279, no. 705
  • Vivien Raynor, "Art: Impressionist Show at the I.B.M. Gallery" [review], The New York Times (New York, NY, April 26, 1985), p. C24
  • G. Freisinger, "Second Impressions", Harvard Magazine (Cambridge, MA, May 1985 - June 1985), ill. p. 43
  • Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 226, p. 197, repr. in color
  • John O'Brian, Degas to Matisse: the Maurice Wertheim Collection, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. and Fogg Art Museum (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, 1988), no. 24, p. 105-108, 157, repr. in color
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 124; repr. as no. 832
  • Seiji Oshima, Musee Picasso 2, Spadem and BCF (Paris, France and Tokyo, Japan, 1990 - 1991), repr. in color no. 50
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1990), repr. in color, no. 36, p. 103
  • John Richardson, A Life of Picasso, Random House (New York, NY, 1991), vol. I, repr. in b/w p. 222
  • Denys Chevalier, Picasso: the Blue and Rose Periods, Crown Publishers Inc. (New York, NY, 1991), repr. in color p. 39
  • Peggy Roalf, Looking at Paintings: Families, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY, 1992), repr. in b/w p. 36
  • Hélène Seckel, Max Jacob and Picasso, Editions de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 1994), repr. p. 4; text pp. 2-8
  • Pierre Daix, Picasso au Bateau-Lavoir, Flammarion (Paris, France, 1994), repr. in color p. 173, fig. 27
  • Brigitte Leal, Picasso et les enfants, Flammarion (Paris, France, 1996), pp. 46-7, repr. in color
  • Le miroir noir: Picasso, sources photographiques 1900-1928, exh. cat., Editions de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 1997), fig. 7
  • Masterpieces of world art : Fogg Art Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1997
  • Marilyn McCully, Picasso: The Early Years, 1892-1906, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C, 1997), no. 73, repr. in color; p. 357, in checklist
  • Dorothy Kosinski, The Artist and the Camera: Degas to Picasso, exh. cat., Yale University Press (New Haven, CT and London, 1999), p. 299
  • Dr. Michael Bennett, The Empathetic Healer: An Endangered Species?, Academic Press (San Diego, New York, Boston, 2001), repr. in b/w p. 133
  • Shelley Swanson Sateren, Picasso, Bridgestone Books (Capstone Press) (Mankato, MN, 2002), p. 8, repr. in color
  • Elizabeth Cowling, Picasso: Style and Meaning, Phaidon Press Limited (London, 2002), p. 89, repr. in color as pl. 65
  • Barbara Rizza Mellin, "The Harvard University Art Museums", The Middlesex Beat (March 2006), pp. 6-7, ill. p. 6
  • Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 181, ill.
  • Elizabeth M. Rudy, "Researching the Wertheim Collection at the Harvard Art Museums", Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals (Summer 2014), Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 301-6, p. 302
  • Uwe M. Schneede and Kathrin Baumstark, Paula Modersohn-Becker Der Weg in die Moderne, exh. cat., Hirmer (Hamburg, Germany, 2017), pp. 43-44, fig. 5b, ill. (color)
  • Michel Hilaire, Picasso: Donner á voir, exh. cat., Bernard Chauveau (La Garenne Colombes, France, 2018), pp. 124-125, ill. (color)
  • Picasso: Painting the Blue Period, exh. cat., The Phillips Collection and DelMonico Books Prestel (Toronto and New York, 2021), pp. 108-109, fig. 9, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

  • Pablo Picasso, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, 02/06/1934 - 03/01/1934
  • Picasso, Forty Years of his Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 11/18/1939 - 01/07/1940; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 02/11/1940 - 03/02/1940; City Art Museum of St. Louis, St. Louis, 03/17/1940 - 04/14/1940; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 04/27/1940 - 05/28/1940; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, 06/25/1940 - 07/22/1940
  • French Painting since 1870 lent by Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/01/1946 - 09/07/1946; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 07/01/1953 - 09/13/1953
  • Picasso Before 1907, Knoedler & Co. Inc., New York, 10/01/1947 - 10/31/1947
  • La Peinture Française depuis 1870, Musée de la Province de Quebec, 07/12/1949 - 08/07/1949
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 07/01/1952 - 09/14/1952
  • French Paintings Since 1870 from the Maurice Wertheim Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 06/01/1953 - 09/30/1953
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 06/15/1957 - 09/15/1957
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 06/10/1958 - 08/31/1958
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Modern French Art--Monet to Picasso, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, 06/17/1960 - 09/04/1960
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, 06/13/1962 - 09/02/1962
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, 06/20/1963 - 09/01/1963
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, 06/24/1965 - 09/07/1965
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, 09/03/1968 - 09/22/1968
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Montgomery Museum of Art, Montgomery, 06/01/1971 - 09/30/1971
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Maine State Museum, Augusta, 06/01/1972 - 09/01/1972
  • Manet to Matisse: The Maurice Wertheim Collection, IBM Gallery of Science and Art, New York, 04/09/1985 - 05/25/1985
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, Isetan Department Store, Tokyo, 03/01/1990 - 04/10/1990; Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art, 04/14/1990 - 05/13/1990
  • Picasso: The Early Years, 1892-1906, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 09/10/1997 - 01/04/1998
  • Modern Art at Harvard, Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo, 07/31/1999 - 09/26/1999; Takamatsu City Museum of Art, Kagawa, 10/09/1999 - 11/14/1999; Matsuzakaya Art Museum, Nagoya, 12/02/1999 - 12/27/1999; Oita City Museum, Oita, 01/06/2000 - 02/06/2000; Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki, Ibaraki, 02/11/2000 - 03/26/2000
  • Re-View: S427 Impressionist & Postimpressionist Art, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/02/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • 32Q: 1220 Wertheim, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Collection Highlights

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Verification Level

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