Artwork Detail

Les femmes d'Alger (Women of Algiers), Variation "N"
Spanish, 1881–1973
Oil on canvas
45 x 57 5/8 "
University purchase, Steinberg Fund, 1960
WU 3898
© Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painted in the post-World War II period, Pablo Picasso's Les femmes d’Alger employs the revolutionary Cubist pictorial language that established him as a leader of the avant-garde in the 1910s. This work is the second to last in a series of fifteen variations based on two works by the French nineteenth-century painter Eugene Delacroix, both titled Les femmes d'Alger dans leur appartement (Women of Algiers in Their Apartment ), from 1834 and 1848. Delacroix's paintings portray three nude or partially dressed women sleeping, smoking, and reclining while a female servant in the background carries a teapot. Picasso's work recasts the seductive, eroticized female figures of Delacroix's Orientalist painting in the flattened, angular forms and compact, discontinuous spaces of Cubism. Here Delacroix's scene of imagined sexual invitation and passive femininity becomes one of female self-possession and confidence. [Permanent collection label, 2019]