and 1907 Picasso worked on many preparatory drawings
and sketches for Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
and apparently arrived at the final composition
in a watercolor, now in the collection of the
Philadelphia Museum of Art. This composition resembles
the first stage of the Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
painting, with five nudes posed in a curtained
interior and no male figures. This study permitted
to map out his final composition with very few
changes. An earlier oil sketch is now in MoMA’s
collection. This small, unstretched canvas, measuring
only 7 1/2 x 8 inches, depicts seven figures in
a curtained room and includes a medical student
standing at the left and a sailor at the center—neither
of whom is present in the final composition. With
feathery brushwork, this tentative and calligraphic
study stands in stark contrast to the highly charged
atmosphere of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (see
Rubin, Studies in Modern Art 3, 1994).
Some comparisons can nonetheless be drawn between
the physical characteristics of Les Demoiselles
d'Avignon and MoMA's oil sketch. Both are
executed on a linen support with a white ground.
Picasso's paint application ranges from thin scumbles
to heavy applications of impastoed
paint. The palette is restrained, limited mostly
to blue, flesh pink, and white. Scientific analysis
indicates that similar pigments were used in both
the small sketch and the large canvas.
Pablo Picasso. Study for Les Demoiselles
1907. Watercolor, 6 3/4 x 8 3/4". Philadelphia
Museum of Art, A.E. Gallatin Collection
Pictured above left:
Pablo Picasso. Study for Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.
Paris, early 1907. Oil on canvas, 7 1/2 x 8"
(18.5 x 20.3 cm) irregular. The Museum of Modern
Art, New York. Acquired through the Lillie P.
Bliss Bequest. ©
2003 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society