In 1944 Miró turned to painting on oils on canvas for the first time in four years. The last oil paintings he had done were the dark-ground burlap works done in Varengeville, a town on the English Channel, at the end of the 1939, coinciding with the outbreak of the Second World War. He painted the gouaches in his celebrated Constellations series from January 1940 to September 1941, while in the meantime having made his way as a war refugee from northern France to the seclusion of Palma, Mallorca, where he hoped to avoid the attention of Franco's fascist police. For the next two years in Palma and in Barcelona, he painted only on paper, experimenting with almost limitless invention in watercolor and drawing media. By 1944 Pierre Matisse, Miró's dealer in New York, had become concerned that the artist had given up oil painting.
Miró had in fact already resumed painting, with a series of small canvases (see also lots 301 and 310) in which "the artist was trying to obtain the poetic yet plastic style he had elaborated on paper" (J. Dupin, Miró, New York, 1993, p. 264). Their modest scale, sometimes little larger than a carnet page, owed something to the fact that Miró rarely had adequate studio space in which to work, and he was now deeply involved in painting on both canvas and paper, and making prints and ceramics concurrently. As far back as 1938, in the article "I Dream of a Large Studio," published in the journal XXe Siècle, the artist lamented, "In Spain, where I went often, I never had a real studio. Early on, I worked in tiny cubicles where I could hardly turn around. When I wasn't happy with my work, I banged my head against the wall. My dream, once I am able to settle down somewhere, is to have a very large studio in order to have enough room to hold many canvases, because the more I work the more I want to work" (reprinted in M. Rowell, ed., Joan Miró: Selected Writings and Interviews, Boston, 1986, p. 162).
Their small scale notwithstanding, these pictures open up on to an inner world of cosmic dimensions. Dupin wrote, "Most of these canvases are baffling in their simplicity: they show no more than one or two figures acompanied by a few stars or signs. The simplicity is matched by the sparing character of the forms, which derives from the infallible inflection of certain curves. Pure silhouettes, they are stylized to the point where they become signs themselves, but as they are altered from canvas to canvas, the result is a gallery of a very diversified figures. All are strikingly self-evident, thanks to the rightness of the combinations of plastic elements on which they are based" (ibid.).