Narrator: Picasso created Man with a Lamb between 1943 and ’44, while living in Paris. Curator Ann Temkin:
AnnTempkin: The lamb seems to be restless, almost trying to twist out of the man's arms as the man just stands very straight and looks stoically ahead.
Picasso made a metal armature for it and then piled clay onto the arms, the torso, the legs, the sheep, the head in order to form it very quickly. And that's why it has this quite spontaneous feeling to it.
In fact, if you look hard, you can see that the legs almost seem unfinished. And that's because Picasso was worried that the whole thing was going to collapse and felt like he was running out of time. You can still see his thumbprints or his fingerprints just pressing the clay against that armature, hoping that it would stay on and not all fall apart.
Often this work is interpreted with Christian symbolism of the shepherd with the lamb. This is something that Picasso denied as an explicit part of his meaning. But given that this was made during the very dark days of the German occupation of Paris, I think it's hard not to think of this as some sort of, if not explicitly religious, kind of spiritual statement of hope and determination and faith.