The present drawing, which Picasso made on 6 September 1967, depicts a female nude flanked by two male figures: an elegantly clad musketeer, the artist's primary persona-of-choice during the last years of his career, and a lascivious-looking satyr. The woman is seated (or partially reclining) with her legs spread and the soles of her feet in the foreground. The focus of the scene is thus her exposed vulva, anticipating the graphic nudity of the series of etchings, Suite 347, that Picasso would execute the following year. Crouching beside the woman, the naked satyr is among the most strongly characterized and lecherous figures in Picasso's late oeuvre. He is equal parts human and animal, with horns and a tail, pointed ears, a bulbous nose, ruby-red lips, and a bushy beard that grows over much of his face. The musketeer, in contrast, is decorously clad in doublets and a ruffled collar, and stands at chivalrous attention beside the nude woman; his sexuality is subsumed in the large sword that he holds in his left hand, its phallic symbolism inescapable. Inspired by Alexandre Dumas's Three Musketeers, which Picasso re-read in 1966, the figure of the seventeenth-century cavalier - worldly, adventurous, and virile--preoccupied the aging artist, whose own sexual powers were finally on the wane. The present composition appears to contrast two aspects of male sexuality: pure libido, completely in the rough, on one side, and more formal, courtly behavior on the other. Marie-Laure Bernadac has written about Picasso's final decade, "A woman's body is the obstacle onto which he projects his male desire and his creative energy. The gap between art and reality, and the irremediable distance between man and woman, enable him to keep up the tension. Picasso's obsessive theme of the artist and model now undergoes a metamorphosis into an erotic relationship, and this stimulates an extraordinarily prolific period of work" (Late Picasso, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 80).
Picasso's musketeer images (and his late works in general) have often been interpreted as a retreat from contemporary life into a world of "backward-looking romantics and nostalgic dreamers" (ibid., p. 82). Yet the bearded satyr in the present drawing bears an unmistakable resemblance to the long-haired hippies who liked to gather outside the artist's gate at Mougins in the hope of gaining an audience, and the musketeer--a soldier more inclined to love-making than to fighting--may be tinged with Picasso's long-standing anti-war views. Dakin Hart has written, "As a force, Picasso's musketeers are a kind of multinational, transhistorical hippie army engaged in a catalogue of alternatives to fighting--from the many sorts of soldierly procrastination to small gestures of reconciliation, scenes of amity, and an embrace of life in the forms of lovemaking and domesticity. Behind the screen of drooping swords, avidly smoked pipes, tipsily raised glasses, fondled nudes, and other sublimations of impotency--drinking, smoking, making music, and canoodling--they represent a fictional universe Picasso developed to explore his credo: life not death, peace not war" (Picasso Mousqueteros: The Late Works, 1962-1972, exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2009, pp. 256-257).