Picasso returned with Fernande Olivier from the remote Catalan village of Horta de Ebro to Paris at the end of the summer of 1909. Having established some coherence in his experiments during the previous two years, his faceting of planes now evolved towards the "shattering of the closed form" (P. Daix and J. Rosselet, op. cit., p. 247).
Although he retained one of his two Bateau Lavoir studios for storage purposes, Picasso and Fernande moved in October to a new studio at 11 Boulevard Clichy. Palau i Fabre describes the effect of this move:
There seems to be a momentaneous rapture in the rhythm and natural evolution of his production that I believe is due to this event.
Blurred faces, where the features can neither be understood nor fixed, were the first result of his move. The dynamics interfering with the artist's life also strained the configuration of his faces and human figures, or better yet, they move and escape in either direction. We can only understand them as an event. Time for contemplation is canceled in them. Nowhere in the whole of art history have we met with such an astounding and effective effort to make us aware of the unstable dimension of things due to our own vital instantaneousness (J. Palau i Fabre, op. cit., pp. 154 and 156).
Both Palau i Fabre and Pierre Daix have loosely dated the present work to 1909-1910, due to the unique three-quarter pose of the figure, concealing the face and torso which would have provided stylistic clues for a more accurate dating. In spite of the ambiguous treatment of the head, and the merging of the body in to the background, certain elements are clearly visible such as the low table and the two fruits at lower left. There is evidence that the painting was produced during the post-Horta period, as he once again begins to deal with the issue of two-dimensionality. By cutting the surface planes, he provides a "fuller and more undulating rhythm" (P. Daix, op. cit., p. 251), a technique also visible in Femme nue dans un fauteuil (fig. 1).
(fig. 1) Pablo Picasso, Femme nue dans un fauteuil, Paris, winter 1909-1910. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg. © 2003 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.