The Frugal Meal, 1904
etching on heavy wove paper
63.4 x 49.4 cm; plate: 46.3 x 38 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 6643)
© Estate of Pablo Picasso (Paris) / SODRAC (Montréal)
Created during the artist’s Blue Period, "The Frugal Meal" is one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century graphic art, vividly evoking Picasso’s experiences as a young artist living in the low-rent district of Montmartre. "The Frugal Meal" rises above abject misery: Picasso creates an allegory of survival that addresses the difficulties and vicissitudes faced by the struggling artist. The print may have been inspired by illustrations for Jehan Richtus’s "Soliloques du Pauvre" (Soliloquies of the Poor) of 1897 made by Theodore Steinlen and Picasso’s fellow Catalan artist Joaquim Sunyer Miró, which are fraught with the same weariness and angst.