This gouache is one of Léger's final studies for the major oil painting of 1954 which bears the same title (coll. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York). As early as 1940 Léger began exploring the theme of acrobats and musicians. These images were later merged with those of male and female circus performers in works from 1952 and 1953, and culminates in the studies for La Grande Parade.
There was a year between the first version of The Grande Parade and its definitive state. This period included a great deal of both elaborating and synthesizing. The slightest alteration was pondered for a long time and worked out with the help of of fresh drawings. Because a change in one place affects the balance of the whole, one is often obliged to rework the whole construction of the picture... (F. Léger, quoted in J. Cassou and J. Leymarie, Léger, Drawings and Gouaches, London, 1973, p. 188)