Picasso used the acrobat as Degas used the dancer: to understand the architecture of the human figure and the mechanics of support and balance. Here, with just a few deft marks of a nibbed pen, Picasso jotted his impressions of a circus performer balancing on one hand while rotating her hips and splayed legs. He made three sequential, alternative views of the same figure, as if he were moving around her while drawing. More likely, however, he drew from memory in his studio, playing back in his mind's eye the scene he had studied so intently.
Inscription: Signed (in graphite, lower center) [underlined]: Picasso
[Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris, by 1914; stock no. 1741; sequestered Kahnweiler stock, 1914–23; fourth Kahnweiler sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 7–8, 1923, possibly no. 90, 91, 93, 94 or 95]; [Saidenberg Gallery, New York, after 1950]; Grégoire Tarnopol, New York (by 1965–d. 1979; his bequest to MMA) and his brother Alexander Tarnopol, New York (gift to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 27–August 1, 2010, no. 27.
Christian Zervos. Pablo Picasso. Vol. 22, Supplément aux années 1903–1906. Paris and New York, 1970, p. 103, no. 275, ill.
Theodore Reff. "Picasso and the Circus." Memoriam Otto J. Brendel: Essays in Archaeology and the Humanities. Ed. Larissa Bonfante and Helga von Heintze. Mainz, 1976, p. 238.