VIDEO: A Moment in Art History – Picasso’s Family of Saltimbanques – Picasso’s first Masterpiece?

In this Moment in Art History, we’ll talk about Picasso’s early work and the way his Rose Period was influenced by his brightening prospects and a French circus. Some have argued that with its heroic scale and drama, Family of Saltimbanques is the first Piece in which Picasso set out to create a masterpiece. Did he succeed?


Art in the background of this video Plein Air Landscapes by Mark White:

Stylized Landscape by Carolee Clark:

Fused Glass by Sandy Pendleton:

Glass Flower by Ana Maria Botero:

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.


  1. My very first reaction when I saw the ‘Family of Saltimbanques’ was ‘Oh they are so lonely!’.
    It’s about dichotomy . Just in ‘Hiding In Plein Site’ (also the title of one of my paintings) it evoques in me ‘Loneliness In A Crowd’ and the fact that the crowd is the family makes it even more sad, more somber.. just like his colors. Yes, although it represents Picasso’s ‘rose’ period the colors are quite somber too.

  2. Thank you, Jason, for this art history moment. I have been a fan of Picasso all my life and yes, the Saltimbanques piece does seem forlorn. I’ve always thought something must have happened during a performance where someone was harmed. I love all his work, especially, his assemblages/collages and his many sculptures. We visited his museum in Paris and saw much of his most famous works
    …bringing tears to my eyes.

  3. I’ve loved this painting for years. I believe it highlights various but artificial rolls each member plays in the circus. The look on the clowns face, for example, hardly depicts a jovial clown. It says to me that the circus is hard somewhat empty work that the family is perhaps trapped in.
    The Renoir girl Circus performers you show after you talk about the circus has a much different feel
    To it. I’ve seen it many times. It’s at the Art Institute of Chicago, one of my favorite museums.

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