Pablo Picasso was first drawn from his native Spain to Paris, which had developed into the international nexus of the art world, for the 1900 World’s Fair. Le Moulin de la Galette (1900), the foremost painting executed during his two-month stay, reflects the young artist’s fascination with the lusty decadence and gaudy glamour of Parisian night life. Picasso’s more naturalistic style rapidly evolved into his melancholic Blue Period and following Rose Period, before he came to pioneer with Georges Braque the faceted forms and flattened spatial planes associated with Cubism. This movement, emerging around 1907, is regarded as one of the most innovative and influential aesthetic developments of the twentieth century. Picasso subsequently experimented with neoclassicism, and his work displayed a renewed interest in drawing and figurative representation in the interwar period. He was also involved to a certain degree with Surrealism, whose adherents attempted to give form to notions of repressed desires, dream imagery, and the unconscious mind.

Collector and dealer Justin K. Thannhauser had a strong personal relationship with Picasso that formed early in both men’s careers, namely around 1913, when the Thannhausers’ gallery in Munich mounted one of the artist’s first major exhibitions in Germany. More than thirty works by Picasso—spanning sixty-five years of his oeuvre—entered the Guggenheim’s collection in 1978 and 1991 with the respective donations of Justin and Hilde Thannhauser.