Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
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
View this object's location on our interactive map
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
Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Painted, 1901, to Ambroise Vollard.
Ambroise Vollard, Paris, from the artist?.
John Quinn, New York NY, purchased through Carroll Galleries, 1924.
Paul Rosenberg, Paris, from estate of John Quinn.
Baron Shigetaro Fukushima, Paris, Purchased from a Paris Gallery, 1926, Sale, 1933 or before, 1933. Paris sale of work from John Quinn's collection, May 1926.
Maurice Wertheim, New York, 1937, 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., Museum of Modern Art, New York (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., Museum of Modern Art, New York (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, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 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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