I was standing in a cave Picasso once slept in. Actually, it’s more of a ledge beneath a craggy, overhanging limestone rock. Yet, in the summer of 1898 the 16-year-old Picasso and a friend spent a month sleeping here: in the Santa Bárbara mountain in the Terres de l’Ebre region of Catalonia, some 210km south-west of Barcelona. He would later write: “Everything I know, I learned in Horta.” Local lore has turned the ledge into a cave but, either way, it’s certainly remote – high up amid the dense holly oak and pine forests of the mountains. Apart from the odd derelict farmhouse, there was nothing for miles and all I heard were warbling sparrows and the trickling of a brook. The answer to why Picasso came here lies with his friend Manuel Pallarès, a fellow pupil at the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, who had invited him to spend the summer at his family home in the hilltop village of Horta (now Horta de Sant Joan). The boys decided to escape the summer heat by heading to the mountains and they spent August drawing and painting the landscape while Pallarès’s sister would bring provisions on a donkey every… Read full this story
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