The Diners (Les Soupeurs)
Pablo Picasso, Spanish, The Diners (Les Soupeurs), 1901, Oil on cardboard; 47.3 x 62.4 cm (18 5/8 x 24 5/8 inches), Bequest of George Pierce Metcalf 57.237
Pablo Picasso painted scenes of café society in Madrid and Barcelona before returning to France in the spring of 1901. Once back in Paris, he quickly adapted the techniques of his contemporaries to his constantly emerging personal style. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s raucous characterizations of dancehall women and Édouard Vuillard’s fluid decorative surfaces are recalled in this observant rendering of an elder gentleman and his solicitous companion. The woman’s exuberant appearance contrasts with her partner’s sober reflection as they partake of an after-theater meal of fruit and champagne. Picasso juxtaposed the narrative of the pair’s intensely mismatched engagement with the still life of the lightly set table. A patterned robe, cropped at upper right, emphasizes the fleeting nature of this typical impression of nocturnal Paris.