Poised between Picasso's two most significant early periods, Le Repas Frugal represents a pivotal point in the artist's oeuvre. As part of his first series of prints, entitled La Suite des Saltimbanques, it contains elements of both the Blue Period, marked by its melancholic introspection, and the Rose Period, characterised by the artist's fascination with strolling acrobat players.
First printed in small numbers by Eugène Delâtre in 1905, the plates were later bought by Ambroise Vollard. He had the plates steel-faced and in 1913 the edition was printed by Louis Fort.
Having just learnt the technique from Ricardo Canals, a fellow resident of Montmarte, it is astonishing that Picasso produced this icon in the history of printmaking at the age of only twenty-three. One of his masterpieces as a printmaker, it was only his second work in the medium, which fascinated him for the remainder of his life.