La Femme au Tambourin is recognised as one of Picasso's most important graphic works and his most powerful depiction of a full-length female figure. Initially based on compositions by Degas and Poussin, Picasso gives the dancer an appearance of wild, desparate joy as she capers across an inky black background. The extraordinary contraposto movement and her inscrutable stare suggest something dark and less frivolous than the title would suggest. Unease is also conveyed through technique as Picasso has attacked the plate, carving out the forms from the surrounding aquatint
More apocalyptic than bacchanalian, the dancer is both disturbing and monumental, and may be read as an expression of the sombre political tensions of the time. As such La Femme au Tambourin is ranked along side Picasso's other great graphic works such as La Minotauromachie (B. 288; Ba 573) and La Femme qui Pleure, I (B. 1333; Ba. 623).