This photograph of Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Pablo Picasso, Jacqueline Roque, and Margaret Scolari Barr (Mrs. Alfred H. Barr, Jr.) (left to right) was taken by Trustee and Curator of Painting and Sculpture James Thrall Soby at La Californie, Picasso’s villa in Cannes, in July 1956. Throughout his tenure at The Museum of Modern Art, Barr devoted a significant amount of time to studying the work of Picasso. In 1940, the Museum held the first American Picasso retrospective, in collaboration with The Art Institute of Chicago, Picasso: Forty Years of His Art (MoMA Exh. #91, November 15, 1939-January 7, 1940). The exhibition included approximately 300 works, some of which had never been exhibited before. Attendance at the Museum peaked at approximately 15,000 visitors per week. Barr expanded the catalogue for this exhibition and a second, updated version, Picasso: Fifty Years of His Art, was printed in 1946. That same year, Harvard University granted Barr a Ph.D. for his work on Picasso.
In 1956, at the time this photograph was taken, Barr was visiting the artist in preparation for the upcoming retrospective Picasso: 75th Anniversary (MoMA Exh. #619, May 4-August 25, 1957), a record-breaking exhibition. More than 100,000 visitors saw the exhibition during the first month.