Poor Couple in a CaféMan and Woman in a Café other

  • Artist: Pablo Picasso
  • Creation date: 1903
  • Object type: Painting

On display: Room 067 The Collection Exhibition - Expression


A woman and a man sit hunched over a table in a gloomy interior. Their countenance and body language indicate resignation. The woman, seemingly wrapped up in a blanket, gazes toward us with unfocused eyes, her pale face looking bright amidst the murky surroundings.

The man sits closely next to her: his dark eyes peer down and away, and his face seems heavily scarred. He seems to be holding the woman with his left arm, while his right arm rests heavily on the table, with a hand that is small in proportion to the rest of his body. On the table in front of the couple are a shot glass and a carafe.

The painting belongs to Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period from 1901 to 1904, so called because of the bluish hues that characterize his pictures. His works from this period typically depict poor, desperate people on the fringes of society, such as drunks, prostitutes, and beggars. Picasso’s ensuing Pink Period would feature gayer subject matter and warmer colours. His art is typified by his constant changes in style and theme, which in turn is partly explained by his sense of experimentation.

Picasso was born in Spain, but moved permanently to France in 1904.

Text: Nina Denney Ness

From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", Nasjonalmuseet 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-088-0


Pablo Picasso

Visual artist

Born 1881 in Malaga, death 1973 in Mougins

Pablo Picasso is considered one of the most important and influential artists of the 20th century. He experimented with different styles throughout his artistic career, alternating between paintings, sculptures and prints. Along with Georges Braque, he developed a new visual style that came to be known as cubism.


Cubism reached its height from around 1907 to 1914, and underwent several phases. During this period Picasso painted a number of portraits and still lifes with motifs that were simplified and divided into planes. Most of the paintings had a muted colour scheme. In Guitar (1912), Picasso combines earthen and pastel colours, and breaks up the motif in an approach that is typical of cubism. The guitar referred to in the title of the painting is nearly unrecognisable.

Collaboration with Carl Nesjar

Picasso collaborated with the Norwegian artist Carl Nesjar for many years. Their association began with the high-rise block in the Government Quarter and continued with a number of freestanding concrete sculptures. One of the highlights of their collaboration is Fiskerne (The Fishermen), a drawing by Picasso that Nesjar sandblasted on the façade of the “Y-Block”. This building, designed by Erling Viksjø and completed in 1969, was demolished in 2020 despite strong protests.

The “Erotic Suite”

Picasso produced a large number of prints with a wide range of motifs. At the age of 87 he created a comprehensive series of prints, “Suite 347”, also known as the “Erotic Suite”. Several of the motifs feature Picasso himself, often together with a naked female model. These works were sometimes censored because of their erotic content and sexually explicit scenarios.

Work info

Creation date:
Other titles:
Ménage de Pauvres (FRE)
De fattiges måltid (NOR)
Det enkle måltid (NOR)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
Olje på lerret
  • Width: 65.6 cm
  • Height: 81.8 cm
  • Depth: 3 cm
Motif - type:
Gift from the Friends of the National Gallery 1917, accessioned 1918
Inventory no.:
Cataloguing level:
Single object
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Høstland, Børre
© Picasso, Pablo/BONO

"Poor Couple in a Café, Man and Woman in a Café" relates to: