A photo-certificate from Jacques Dupin dated Paris, 9 July 1998 accompanies this gouache.
Jacques Dupin termed the year 1935 in Mir's career as being "cataclysmic" (J. Dupin, Joan Mir: Life and Work, New York, 1962, p. 262). The whimsical personages that populate his compositions turn grotesque; while they often retain a comic aspect there is a new dimension of anxiety and menace. Like the characters in a slapstick comedy, these figures are at times aggressive and violent, or pathetically passive and victimized.
"What happened? Nothing in the painter's private life accounts for the upheaval. His had been a peaceful existence, untroubled by quarrels or adventures. His family life was harmonious, and he had firm friends who did not distract him from his engrossment in his work... What seems to have changed was not so much Mir as the course of modern times around him. Liberated by art from personal conflicts, Mir was now
to experience and express the collective tragedy as an inner torment... A form of barbarism, hitherto unknown in history, was now threatening European civilization, alienating minds and bodies alike, enslaving nations in the course of its monstrous, sadistic, grotesque advance." (Ibid., pp. 262-263)
The political tensions between democracy, communism and fascism that were rapidly tearing Spain apart erupted into open civil war in July 1936, five months before the present work was painted. The term 'metamorphosis' figures in several paintings of this period, and it is clear that the artist is acknowledging an inescapable process of change in his life and work, understanding that he cannot stand apart from events around him. The figure in the present work is on the move, marching or journeying, a prophetic glimpse of Mir's own immediate destiny. By the end of 1936 he would flee Spain for the safety of Paris. Four years later he would take to the refugee-clogged roads once again, to escape the German invasion of France.