Pablo Picasso – Don Quixote (1955) (Analysis)

Don Quixote is a well-known sketch by Pablo Picasso created in 1955 by request of a poet Louis Aragon for a French literary magazine. That issue of the magazine was entirely devoted to the work of the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes. Picasso took the characters for the picture from Miguel’s novel that bears the same title. They are Don Quixote and his companion Sancho Panza.

Don Quixote by Pablo Picasso
                 Don Quixote by Pablo Picasso

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By the way, the novel is regarded as one of the best novels ever written. Miguel de Cervantes created it as a satire of all chivalric romances the main hero of which, after reading too many romances of that kind, tired of dreaming, leaves everything that he has, abandons his home, and starts to travel the world.

The Picasso’s drawing was published on the last page of the magazine. The graphic picture quickly became popular among those people who admired the art of the famous artist but the original sketch was lost.

The Analysis of Don Quixote by Pablo Picasso

The painting depicts Don Quixote on horseback, his friend Sancho Panza, sitting on a donkey, the sun, and several windmills. At first glance, Picasso’s strokes and lines look pretty careless, almost like scribbles, but if you take a look at it more attentively, you will realize that the author was extremely confident about what he was doing which makes a simple black and white picture unique and memorable.


Sitting on the donkey, Sancho-Panza looks at his friend from the bottom up, while the weary traveler Don Quixote looks thoughtfully into the distance. Although their postures do show a strong fatigue, it doesn’t affect a noble bearing. Apparently, Don Quixote’s body was redrawn more than once, an unusual helmet hides the head, his thin neck is depicted with one long stroke, an eagle’s nose, a goatee beard. He holds the long spear is in one hand, and the round shield in the other.

Panza is drawn in the form of a silhouette that has a strange shape, in which you can see the outlines of a jacket. It’s obvious, that the artist definitely spent less time and effort depicting Panza than Don Quixote. The picture turned out to be memorable, very emotional and surprisingly precise. It does look very bright, full of movement, emotions, and clear lines. The sketch is depicted in black and white. With each stroke Picasso as if narrates us about his infinitely energetic, freedom-loving, and creative nature.

Don Quixote: Complete and Unabridged By Miguel de Cervantes

Dark lines on a light background amaze with their clarity and simplicity, it is clear that the artist drew them with a firm, unwavering hand. Don Quixote and the mill which separates him and Sancho Panza, are depicted more clearly, noting their importance for the composition. We can say that Sancho Panza and other figures are hardly noticeable at all.

With the help of black lines, the artist showed us what exactly occupied the thoughts of Don Quixote, things that added mystics to the reality we are accustomed to. The main hero was contemplating about everything – about the horse, windmills, and the surrounding setting.

The Original Don Quixote – An Overwhelming Discovery

In 2010, the original drawing “Don Quixote” by Pablo Picasso was accidentally discovered in Georgian family in Tbilisi by art critic Lali Lebanidze. According to the family member, the picture was sent to them by the relative from abroad. The most interesting thing is that the painting was always considered to be a copy.

After a long and careful examination, the Georgian art historian concluded that in his opinion, the find was the original Don Quixote painting by Pablo Picasso, not just a regular print like it was considered before. Nevertheless, it was never officially confirmed and the authenticity of the discovery remained doubtful. For real Picasso enthusiasts, I highly suggest considering this “Ultimate Picasso” hardcover or paperback.

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