Maya Widmaier Picasso has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
By 1920 Picasso has adopted two rather different stylistic routes on his paintings. The first was the pursuit of a neo-classical ideal in his figure compositions, initiated by his interest in the precise line of Ingres's draughtmanship and later influenced by the sensual and volumetric aspects that he admired in the late figure paintings of Renoir. The second represented a continuation of 'synthetic' cubism and was best suited to still-lifes.
The problems of rendering objects in space continued to intrigue Picasso. In Le guéridon, the composition is geometric but the objects are half-way between figuration and abstraction. The forms are extremely stylised, reduced to basic geometric forms: circle, square, rectangle and triangle. Yet the objects remain recognisable. In the centre of the composition, a guitar together with a fruit bowl or a cocktail glass is placed on a circular one-legged table, a 'guéridon'. The finger board of the guitar defines the central axis of the composition, dividing it into two parts to create a mirror effect. To accentuate the whole effect Picasso applied the colours in a bold manner. This form of Cubism reveals a new sense of order, certainly responding to the 'rappel à l'ordre', a movement that emerged in the wake of the chaos and horror of the World War I. Many artists and writers sought ways of returning to order and reason, and many major pre-war Cubists adopted this new and more harmonious style.
Apart from its geometric rigour, Le guéridon is full of joy, exuberance and wit. Picasso abandoned the dark tones of analytical Cubism to return to the pleasure of colours, using subtle yellow, pink and blue, to give the composition a harmonious atmosphere. He also played with the forms. From a distance, the table and the guitar appear to show a man, his legs formed by those of the table, and his belly described by the table top; it may even represent a pregnant woman. This sense of amusement in the composition is certainly another aspect of the humouristic 'rappel à l'ordre'. The feeling of joy is also due to Picasso's personal happiness at the moment. He was successful and could afford a glamourous lifestyle. He was spending his holidays in fashionable places with well-to-do people, and he was married to a beautiful ballet dancer, Olga Koklova, who was then pregnant with their first child. The lyrical atmosphere of this exquisite gouache seems permeated with a sense of domestic contentment and well-being.