This painting of angular and somewhat androgynous figures is indebted to Cézanne’s depictions of bathers. As with other works of 1909, the figures are set in a measurable space, but Picasso leaves the location vague. The touch of green and rocky outcropping at the base of the picture hint at a landscape, while the angle behind the head of the figure at right suggests a window or doorframe. The neat patches of parallel brushstrokes in closely modulated hues construct a sense of tactile form, yet they also emphasize the flatness of the picture plane. This tension between illusionism and anti-illusionism is at the heart of Cubism.
Inscription: Signed (upper right): Picasso
[Paul Guillaume, Paris, until d. 1934; as "Deux baigneuses," inv. no. 508]; [his widow, Domenica Guillaume (née Juliette Lacaze, later Domenica Guillaume Walter), Paris, from 1934]; [Galerie André Weil, Paris]; Joe and Emily Lowe Foundation, New York (until 1970; the foundation’s sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, February 25, 1970, no. 45, as 1908, sold to Beyeler); [Galerie Beyeler, Basel, 1970–71, as "Deux baigneuses" and "Deux femmes nues," 1908; inv. no. 6367; sold on September 16, 1971 to Hahn]; [Stephen Hahn, New York, 1971–83; sold in April 1983 to Lauder]; Leonard A. Lauder, New York, (from 1983)
New York. Demotte. "Pablo R. Picasso: An Exhibition of Paintings," December 1931, no. 18 (as "La conversation").
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism," September 24, 1989–January 16, 1990, unnumbered cat. (p. 125).
Kunstmuseum Basel. "Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism," February 25–June 4, 1990, unnumbered cat. (fig. 71).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection," October 20, 2014–February 16, 2015, no. 56.
Pablo R. Picasso: Catalogue for an Exhibition of Paintings. Exh. cat., Demotte. New York, 1931, unpaginated, no. 18.
Christian Zervos. Pablo Picasso. Vol. 2a, Works from 1906 to 1912. Paris, 1942, unpaginated (list of plates), no. 116, pl. 57, as winter 1908.
Joan Merli. Picasso, el artista y la obra de nuestro tiempo. 2nd ed. (1st ed.,1942). Buenos Aires, 1948, p. 600, ill. no. 192, as "La conversación".
Franco Russoli and Fiorella Minervino. L'opera completa di Picasso cubista. Milan, 1972, p. 97, no. 201, ill., as winter 1908.
Françoise Cachin and Fiorella Minervino. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Picasso, 1907–1916. Paris, 1977, p. 98, no. 201, ill. p. 97, as winter 1908.
Pierre Daix and Joan Rosselet. Picasso, The Cubist Years, 1907–1916: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings and Related Works. Boston, 1979, pp. 66, 236, no. 244, ill.
William Rubin, ed. Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1989, ill. p. 125 (German ed., 1990, p. 329, revised dating as [Paris, spring 1909], fig. 71; French ed., 1990, and Spanish ed., 1991, p. 328, revised dating as [Paris, spring 1909], ill. p. 119).
Josep Palau i Fabre. Picasso: Cubism, 1907–1917. New York, 1990, p. 500, no. 348, ill. p. 124, as "Two Bathers Face-to-Face".
Pepe Karmel. "Appendix 2: Notes on the Dating of Works." Picasso and Braque: A Symposium. Ed. Lynn Zelevansky. New York, 1992, p. 327, as early spring 1909.
John Richardson with the collaboration of Marilyn McCully. A Life of Picasso. Vol. 2, 1907–1917. New York, 1996, pp. 116–17, ill.
T. J. Clark. Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism. New Haven, 1999, p. 199, fig. 114, as "Two Nude Women".
William Rubin. A Curator's Quest: Building the Collection of Painting and Sculpture of the Museum of Modern Art, 1967–1988. New York, 2011, fig. 30 (installed in the exhibition “Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism,” Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1989–90).
Armand Israël. Georges Braque: Père du Cubisme, initiateur de l'art contemporain. Paris, 2013, p. 123, ill.
"Objects Promised to the Museum during the Year 2012–2013." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, One Hundred Forty-third Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013 (2013), p. 47.
Andrea Bayer inCubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Ed. Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2014, pp. 48, 52, no. 56, ill. p. 53 (color).
Anna Jozefacka and Luise Mahler inCubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Ed. Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2014, p. 281.
Emily Braun and Leonard A. Lauder inCubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Ed. Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2014, p. 14, fig. 10 (installation photo, Exh. New York 1989–90).
Alan Hyman, ed. The Picasso Project: Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings, and Sculpture, A Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue, 1885–1973., Analytic Cubism, 1909–1912. San Francisco, 2015, ill. p. vi (color), pp. 4, 321, 330, no. 1908/09-006, ill. p. 4.