Pablo Picasso

Les Soles [The Soles] (1940)

About this artwork

'The Soles' was painted in Paris in March 1940, but was inspired by the town of Royan, on the Atlantic coast. Picasso was based in Royan at the time and became homesick for the town, with its bustling marketplace, during a three-month trip to Paris. The painting has traditionally been called 'The Soles' but the fish in the scales on the left is not a sole and the crab is perhaps the most dominant element in the composition. It has been composed so that the claws of the crab balance the shape of the scales. The crab also represents Picasso himself, weighing up the qualities of his two very different mistresses, Marie-Thérèse Walter (the rounded fish in the centre) and Dora Maar, who appears as the aggressive, sharp-faced fish. Both women were in Royan in 1940.

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso

The son of an artist, Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain, and studied at art school in Barcelona. He visited Paris in 1900 and after several extended stays settled there in 1904. Picasso was a hugely prolific and highly influential artist who worked in numerous styles throughout his life. However, it is probably for his cubist paintings that he is known. Their revolutionary treatment of subject matter, whether still life or portrait, is instantly recognisable as being by Picasso. The Gallery of Modern Art has a small, but choice collection of Picasso's work, including a 'Blue Period' painting, a cubist collage, two still life paintings, two drawings, several prints and some notable loans.