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The Frugal Meal, from The Saltimbanques

A work made of etching on zinc in black on ivory laid paper.
© 2018 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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  • A work made of etching on zinc in black on ivory laid paper.


September 1904


Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
printed by Eugène Delâtre (French, 1864-1938)

About this artwork

Pablo Picasso’s remarkable career spanned more than seven decades and influenced nearly every major artistic trend in the first half of the twentieth century. This large, haunting etching, The Frugal Meal, was one of the last works of his Blue Period (1901–4), a time when the struggling artist’s palette was dominated by the color blue, then symbolically associated with melancholy—the mood in which he portrayed his array of poor, ill, and outcast characters. Completed just after Picasso settled permanently in France, moving into a dilapidated Montmartre tenement nicknamed the Bateau-Lavoir, or “Washerwoman’s Boat,” this austere etching brings together two subjects that fascinated him—couples in cafés and the experience of the blind—with a high degree of refinement. The man’s emaciated face is in profile, while the woman stares directly at the viewer, emphasizing her companion’s blindness. The angular bodies and elongated fingers of the two figures reflect the scarcity of both their meal and their means. The Frugal Meal, which was only Picasso’s second attempt at printmaking, reveals the artist’s extraordinary gift for draftsmanship and his remarkable facility with new media and techniques.


Currently Off View


Prints and Drawings


Pablo Picasso


The Frugal Meal, from The Saltimbanques


Spain (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1904


Etching on zinc in black on ivory laid paper


Image/plate: 46.2 × 37.8 cm (18 1/4 × 14 15/16 in.); Sheet: 60 × 44 cm (23 5/8 × 17 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

Alfred Stieglitz Collection

Reference Number



© 2018 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Extended information about this artwork

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