Pablo Picasso
Scène de rue (Street Scene), 1900

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Scène de rue (Street Scene)
Artist name
Pablo Picasso
Date created
oil on canvas
18 3/4 in. × 26 1/4 in. (47.63 cm × 66.68 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Bequest of Harriet Lane Levy
© Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Permanent URL
Artwork status
Not on view at this time.

Audio Stories

Picasso explores the somber side of Paris

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Pablo Picasso painted this somber Street Scene late in 1900, when he spent three months visiting Paris for the first time. He was nineteen years old.  

These streets are probably in Montmartre, whose steep hillsides are not unlike some of those in San Francisco. The figures are turned away from us, apparently dejected. Their bulky clothes protect them against the cold. Notice the low angle of the winter sun, just touching the tops of the distant yellow buildings under the coal smoke fog of the city. The foreground is left dark.  

Picasso’s sympathies are clearly with the figures, who dominate the painting even though we don’t see their faces. These figures are central, three-dimensional, and both larger and closer than the urban setting, which seems flatly painted, like a stage-set or a curtain. The curious red rectangle at the upper left—an awning, perhaps, or a sign over a bar—looms above the scene. Its color is repeated, almost tenderly, by the child’s skirt. 

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