Artist: Pablo Picasso (Spanish, Malaga 1881–1973 Mougins, France)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 37 1/2 x 37 1/4 in. (95.3 x 94.6 cm)
Credit Line: Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Ira Haupt Gift, 1950
Accession Number: 50.188
Rights and Reproduction: © 2017 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
One of the most important of Picasso's Blue Period canvases, this work is a remarkable restatement of the Christian sacrament-the ritual of tasting bread and wine to evoke the flesh and blood of Christ-in contemporary terms. Lit with the mystical light of El Greco, the composition derives its strength from its sparse setting and restricted palette.
Picasso described the painting in a letter to his friend the French poet Max Jacob: "I am painting a blind man at the table. He holds a piece of bread in his left hand and with his right hand reaches for a jug of wine. There is a dog nearby that looks at him. I am quite happy with it [although] it is not yet finished."
Technical analysis shows that the dog appeared in an earlier state of the picture, at bottom left, near the plate. Underneath the present composition is another work, a crouching female nude seen in profile.