Erotic Scene (La Douceur)

Pablo Picasso Spanish

Not on view

While the subject of this canvas is unique in his painted oeuvre, Picasso made dozens of explicitly sexual watercolors and drawings in his early years, especially between 1902 and 1903. As a young man he did not hide his promiscuity and he frequently depicted himself in the company of showgirls and prostitutes. This painting, however, remains unusual for its patent lack of erotic intensity, which is surprising coming from a young man of such extensive sexual experience. Even Picasso himself—for that is indeed the artist on the bed—does not look at the woman; instead he lifts his head with both hands to see himself reflected in a mirror across the room, adopting the pose of Goya's paintings of majas at the Museo del Prado, Madrid.

When shown a photograph of this painting in the 1960s, Picasso denied that he had made it and dismissed it as a "bad joke by friends." Recent research has shown, to the contrary, that it was one of two paintings purchased in Barcelona in 1912 by Picasso's dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, from Benet Soler, whose clothing shop Picasso frequented. Hence it is quite likely that Picasso had exchanged the painting for clothes about 1903. After it was sold in the 1923 Kahnweiler auction in Paris, it was purchased by the American publisher and collector Scofield Thayer for his collection of erotica.

Erotic Scene (La Douceur), Pablo Picasso (Spanish, Malaga 1881–1973 Mougins, France), Oil on canvas

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.