Representations of children form a significant and recurring theme in Picasso's art. While still very young, Picasso began sketching his sisters Lola and Conchita. During the Blue and Rose periods, Picasso touched tenderly on the more poignant aspects of childhood. In his later years, especially during his forties when he became a father, the children in his art were independent of their former symbolic meaning and became a theme unto themselves. In these later works, one has the sense of the proud and boastful father observing the wonders of childhood through the corner of his eye. In many cases, these representations of children did not refer to any specific model. Picasso explained the subject of these works as the "children of the imagination" (H. Kay, Picasso's World of Children, New York, p. 28). Often the memory of a child he had once seen, such as the concierge's daughter observed at play from his window in Montmartre, was sufficient inspiration for his creative process.
In the early years following the end of the Second World War, Picasso's usually turbulent domestic life entered a period of relative calm. In the spring of 1947, at age 66, Picasso was about to become a father for the third time, on this occasion with artist Françoise Gilot. Their first of two children, Claude Pierre-Paul, was born on 15 May 1947. Children would naturally have been on Picasso's mind during this time. Throughout April and May of 1947, Picasso worked on a series of paintings of young children, most often of girls with dolls. The present work, painted on 3 May, depicts a young girl seated on a chair. She is brightly dressed with her head covered in a white scarf tied in a bow. The tender age of the subject is suggested by the doll she holds, as well as by the relative scale of the chair which seems to dwarf her. Her feet barely touch the ground.
This postwar period was to become one of the most artistically productive periods of Picasso's career. He returned again and again to stylistic developments from his own past, finding in them new and innovative means for artistic expression. In the present work, Picasso revisits many of the ideas from his landmark experiments in cubism. Both the subject and the chair have been broken into flattened planes and compressed forward. The architecture of the chair has been disrupted so that several perspectives are rendered at once. Picasso's treatment of the child's face also includes multiple perspectives so that both profiles are possible simultaneously.
The doll the child is holding has been rendered in the most cursory manner possible. During the deprivations of the war years, Picasso had to draw on all his inventive skills to fashion toys and dolls for his daughter Maya from whatever materials were available. The innocent wonderment of a child at such simple pleasures is something that seems to have fascinated Picasso. It is telling that his portrayal of children tends to be limited to the very young, ending abruptly once the child reached the age of seven or eight.