Picasso developed this painting from the central motif of an unrealized mural of four mounted riders and a walking figure leading a horse. Determinedly striding forward, the youth seen here exudes confidence, his clenched fist compelling the slender steed to follow him without any reins. The vigorous mark-making, relative lack of fine details, and shifting hues of browns and grays all speak to an evolution in Picasso’s art. But this subdued palette and restrained expressivity would soon be broken by the artist’s radical Cubist explorations in the ensuing years.
Gallery label from 2019