The study carried out to identify the drawing discovered on the back of the pastel portrait The Artist’s Mother (MPB 110016) during its 2013 restoration, was initially based on the formal similarity to another work in the collection, Bust of a 19th Century Gentleman (MPB110700R), which had presumably been made during the last years the young Picasso lived in La Coruña (1894-95).
In addition to the similarities in stroke and technique, the only reference on the drawing of the gentleman is some writing in ink on the top-left corner which has not been studied to date. Its possible identity marked the beginning of a study which has recently been published in Quaderns del museu.
Over the past three years, we have expanded the scope of the work, leaving behind the merely technical and stylistic setting of these two works and establishing new links with other works in the collection. To this end, a third drawing from the Museum collection has been added to the project. Pigeons and Other Drawings (MPB 110864R), also made in La Coruña in 1894, has several inscriptions and short, hand-written texts.
We have employed the methods of graphonomics, the calligraphic expert procedure most commonly used in Western countries today, to analyse graphic aspects and subaspects of the writings on the drawings.
Writing is a complex action in which authors project their personality, which is as unique and unrepeatable as the trace of the pencil or the brushstroke.
This study is a good example of the necessary collaboration of different disciplines in the documentation of art collections. Writings which beyond any doubt are those of Isidoro Brocos, extracted from notes in his sketchbooks, and several handwritten texts by Picasso in 1894 are the truthful reference forming the base for the comparison of several scripts that are part of the composition of both drawings.
The application of this type of methodology to the examination of the texts in the drawings has been a complementary tool to determine the nature of the various calligraphies and document, with innovative aspects, the training programme of the young Picasso and the influence some of his teachers have had.