Paula Rego’s Nursery Rhymes

Born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1935 and permanently settled in London since 1983, Paula Rego is a major figure in the world of international art. The monumentality and psychological drama of her paintings have established her as one of the most important figurative painters of our generation.


Her art works are in collections all over the world. She uses the medium of print to explore some of her most important ideas, giving full reign to her imagination in both etching and lithography, and using the media with exuberance to create work that is disturbing, erotic, and powerful as her paintings.


Her thirty etchings based on familiar childhood nursery rhymes were produced in 1989. Understanding the historic origins of these rhymes is an important aspect of understanding Rego’s psychological transformation of them in her etchings. Nursery rhymes are a peculiarly English genre of nonsense verse almost unknown in the rest of Europe.


Rego first came in contact with them at the age of ten when she was sent to an English school. She later rediscovered them with her two year old granddaughter and started to develop this series. Rego is a deeply subversive artist, who takes these familiar, seemingly innocent children’s nursery rhymes and transmutes them into something wildly imaginative, pregnant with several hidden meanings, often genuinely disturbing