Portrait photograph of Pablo Picasso, 1908. Photo: RMN-Grand Palais

The strong should go ahead and take what they want.
—Picasso to Leo Stein, 1906.

With the publication of the first volume of John Richardson’s new biography of Picasso, we now have the most complete account of the artist’s early years we are likely to be given for the foreseeable future.[1] The first thing to be said about this book is that it is at once a triumph of the biographer’s art and one of the most illuminating studies yet written about a major figure of the modern movement. It is certainly one of the most absorbing books about an artist of any period that I have...

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