Blending modernity with enduring forms from the past, the stylized poses and friezelike arrangement of Léger’s Purist-period women were influenced by the Egyptian and Assyrian art he saw at the Musée du Louvre, which had been removed for safety during World War I and reinstalled in January 1919. Léger’s Three Women was reproduced in the January 1921 issue of the periodical L’Esprit Nouveau, the mouthpiece of Purism, where, despite the clearly figurative imagery, it was simply titled Composition.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower center): FL / 20
the artist, Paris (1920–21; sold on January 17, 1921 for Fr 70, to Rosenberg); [Galerie L’Effort Moderne (Léonce Rosenberg), Paris, 1921–late 1920s; inv. no. 7238, as Drawing for “Les 3 femmes et la nature morte,” sold in late 1920s to Berg, in partial exchange for a sculpture by Berg]; Christian Berg, Paris (late 1920s–d. 1976); his son, Thorwald Berg, Stockholm (1976–91; his sale, Sotheby’s, London, June 26, 1991, no. 238, as "Three Nudes," sold to private collection); private collection, Paris (1991–2007; sold in October 2007 to Lauder); Leonard A. Lauder, New York (from 2007–2013; transferred on April 8, 2013 to the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Trust); The Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Trust, New York (2013–16; gift to MMA)
Stockholm. Riksförbundent för Bildande Konst. "Léger och nordisk postkubism," 1952–53, no. 3 (as "Komposition med tre kvinnor").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection," October 20, 2014–February 16, 2015, no. 45.
Maurice Raynal. "F. Léger." L’Esprit Nouveau no. 4 (January 1921), ill. p. 440, as "Composition".
Christian Faerber et al. Konst i svenska hem: Målningar och skulpturer från 1800 till våra dagar. Göteborg, 1942, p. 598, as "Komposition med tre figurer".
Léger och nordisk postkubism. Exh. cat., Riksförbundent för Bildande Konst. Stockholm, 1952, p. 6, no. 3.
Sven Sandström, ed. Christian Berg, 1957–67: Miljöer och teman. Stockholm, 1967, ill. p. 15 (on display in the residence of Christian Berg, Förslövsholm, Sweden 1950s or contemporary to the publication).
Robert L. Herbert inLéger's "Le Grand Déjeuner". Ed. Louise Lincoln. Exh. cat., Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Minneapolis, 1980, p. 13, fig. b, as "Composition: Three Nudes".
Christian Derouet, ed. Correspondances Fernand Léger–Léonce Rosenberg, 1917–1937. Paris, 1996, p. 80 n. 1, under no. 90, p. 268, inv. no. 7238.
"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. 46, as "Three Nudes (Trois nus)," December 1920.
Carol S. Eliel inCubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Ed. Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2014, pp. 216–17, 220–21, 320(1)nn.5, 7, 8, (2)n.13, no. 45, ill. p. 215 (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. 275, fig. 45 (on display in the residence of Christian Berg, Förslövsholm, Sweden, 1950s or ca. 1967).