Some art historians attach exaggerated importance to the national characteristics revealed in a given work of art; others dismiss them altogether on the ground that genius transcends national boundaries. It is, however, undeniable, as was shown by Jean Cassou and other writers, that Picasso's Spanish extraction accounts for some essential features of his art. Picasso was stimulated by old Spanish masterpieces and by contemporary Spanish painters; his Spanish racial heritage is an integral component of his art throughout its transformations. That is why his works are so clearly different from related French works, for instance, those of Braque. Although France has been his chosen homeland for several decades, although French art has influenced him more than any other, and although without it he would never have been what he is, he cannot seriously be classified as a French artist. Actually Picasso is a global artist; although he springs from a specific nation and remains bound to it, he has predominantly been formed by other forces, and by virtue of the universality of his art he belongs to the world as a whole. That is precisely why it is particularly fascinating to discover the national sources of his unique richness. For even in his very earliest works, he reveals not only his extraordinary gifts, but also his unmistakable Spanish characteristics which later recur in a thousand forms.
Pablo Ruiz Picasso was born in Málaga on October 25, 1881. His father was a teacher in the local art school (after 1901, Pablo used only the family name of his mother, Maria Picasso, as is often done in Spain). In 1891 the Ruiz Picassos moved to La Coruña in Galicia, and in 1895 to Barcelona. Only a few of Picasso's Barcelona paintings are known; among them is an oil of 1895, today in the museum of Málaga, showing an old couple in a kitchen. The theme is social, and the treatment naturalistic, but although the fourteen-year-old author is confined to the contemporary idiom, he reveals amazing technical skill. At that time the boy served as an assistant to his father who specialized in compositions representing birds and flowers; he would cut off the legs of a dead pigeon and pin them on a board, and Pablo copied them minutely. To this day Picasso has retained a love for pigeons, which he inherited
The Artist's Mother page 42 Portrait of Uncle Baldomero Chiara Cl. Cat. 1