In 1906 and 1907 Picasso worked on many drawings and sketches for Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, his most ambitious work to that point. This small, unstretched canvas—one of Picasso’s preparatory oil sketches—provides a window into the artists thought process in conceptualizing Demoiselles. The seven figures in the curtained room of a brothel include two male figures—clients, perhaps: a sailor at center and a medical student standing at left, holding a skull. Neither of these figures is present in the final painting; Picasso shifted the composition so that the women confront the viewer directly.
Gallery label from 2009.