The pyramid that dominates the composition delineates the edge of a draped curtain, which is pulled back with an oversize tassel at right to reveal a round table with a cord-fringe tablecloth and coffee cup in the foreground. Thanks to the title, recorded by dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, the viewer is encouraged to find elements related to chess in an otherwise difficult-to-discern mix of marks and facets. The two most obvious pieces are the knight—the bright white oval with a horse’s curved head and shoulder at upper left—and the orb-topped, crenellated rook at center. The light and dark angular shapes at upper center may even allude to the contrasting squares—or in this case, cubes—of a chessboard.
Inscription: Signed (verso, upper right): Picasso
[Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris, 1911–probably 1912; inv. no. 867, photo no. 157, dated winter 1911; probably sold in 1912 to Dutilleul]; Roger Dutilleul, Paris (probably 1912–d. 1956); his nephew, Jean Masurel, Mouvaux, France (1956–d. 1991); his heirs, Paris (1991–98; sold in June 1998 to Lauder); Leonard A. Lauder, New York (from 1998)
Paris. Galerie de France. "Le Cubisme, 1911–1918," May 25–June 30, 1945, no. 39.
Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, Muze'on Tel Aviv. "Picasso," [January–March] 1966, no. 12 (as winter 1911).
Jerusalem. Israel Museum. "Picasso," March 24–May 2, 1966, no. 12.
Tokyo. Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi. "Le Bateau-Lavoir," April 12–24, 1977, no. 23.
Osaka. Mitsukoshi. "Le Bateau-Lavoir," May 3–15, 1977, no. 23.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection," October 20, 2014–February 16, 2015, no. 65.
Christian Zervos. Pablo Picasso. Vol. 2a, Works from 1906 to 1912. Paris, 1942, unpaginated (list of plates), no. 278, pl. 136, as winter 1911.
Le Cubisme, 1911–1918: G. Braque, R. Delaunay, R. de la Fresnaye, A. Gleizes, J. Gris, A. Herbin, F. Léger, A. Lhote, L. Marcoussis, J. Metzinger, P. Picasso, J. Villon. Exh. cat., Galerie de France. Paris, 1945, p. 33, no. 39.
Picasso. Exh. cat., Muze'on Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv, 1966, unpaginated, no. 12, ill.
Franco Russoli and Fiorella Minervino. L'opera completa di Picasso cubista. Milan, 1972, pp. 108–9, no. 430, ill.
Le Bateau-Lavoir. Exh. cat., Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi. Tokyo, 1977, unpaginated, no. 23, ill.
Françoise Cachin and Fiorella Minervino. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Picasso, 1907–1916. Paris, 1977, p. 108, no. 430, ill. p. 109, as winter 1911.
Pierre Daix and Joan Rosselet. Picasso, The Cubist Years, 1907–1916: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings and Related Works. Boston, 1979, pp. 94, 274, no. 441, ill., and p. 95, pl. XXXVI.
Francis Berthier. "La merveilleuse et grande aventure de Roger Dutilleul." Galerie des Arts no. 220 (December 1983–January 1984), p. 49 (on display in the residence of Roger Dutilleul on the rue de Monceau, Paris, ca. 1950s).
Christine Poggi. "Frames of Reference: 'Table' and 'Tableau' in Picasso's Collages and Constructions." Art Journal 47, no. 4 (Winter 1988), pp. 313–14, fig. 3, as" The Chess Pieces".
Christine Poggi. In Defiance of Painting: Cubism, Futurism, and the Invention of Collage. New Haven, 1992, pp. 62, 66, fig. 51, as "The Chess Pieces".
Malcolm Gee inEin Haus für den Kubismus: Die Sammlung Raoul La Roche; Picasso, Braque, Léger, Gris—Le Corbusier und Ozenfant. Ed. Katharina Schmidt and Hartwig Fischer. Exh. cat., Kunstmuseum Basel. Ostfildern-Ruit, 1998, p. 279, fig. 1 (on display in the residence of Roger Dutilleul on the rue de Monceau, Paris, ca. 1950s).
"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.
Rebecca Rabinow inCubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Ed. Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2014, p. 170, no. 65, ill. p. 171 (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. 288, fig. 65 (on display in Roger Dutilleul's residencve on rue de Monceau, Paris, ca. 1950s).
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, pp. xlii, 174, 322, 332, no. 1911-111, ill. p. 174.
"The Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection: A Conversation with Emily Braun and Pepe Karmel." IFAR Journal 16, no. 3 (2015), p. 48, figs. 6 (on display in the residence of Roger Dutilleul on the rue de Monceau, Paris, ca. 1950s), 25A (color), and 25B (on display in the residence of Roger Dutilleul on the rue de Monceau, Paris, ca. 1950s).