pen and India ink on paper
16,9 x 22,8 cm (6 5/8 x 9 in.)
They not only appear in Picasso's cubist works, but are also a recurring motif in later years: musicians and instruments such as guitars, violins, mandolins, pianos or flutes. Picasso depicts the latter in connection with mythological figures such as Pan, Faun and Satyrs, or as flute players who are not further defined. As one of the fine arts, musical instruments symbolise creativity and joie de vivre, which Picasso combines with sexuality and sensuality in the present drawing: In it, two voluminous female bodies are captured in soft, organic lines – a reclining nude and a figure seated to the right, facing the sleeping woman with her flute playing. The open posture of the reclining figure suggests relaxation and enjoyment. The intertwined bodies seem to literally merge visually. The instrument, which is the only element sketched with a distinctive straight stroke, emerges as a phallic symbol and underlines the erotic character of the work. Picasso himself was known for his amorous adventures and at that time, in addition to his marriage to Olga, he was having an affair with Marie-Thérèse Walter.
The execution of the figures reflects Picasso's stylistic development, as it continued since Picasso's so-called 'classicist' period from the 1920s when he dealt with antique motifs and the monumental female figures. Surrealist influences led to further radical changes in body proportions and metamorphoses, which also reveal Picasso's Cubist vocabulary of forms. In "Flûtiste assise et dormeuse", the hands, arms and legs are just as simplified as the faces of the protagonists. The drawing impressively illustrates Picasso's ability to capture a subject masterfully with just a few lines. In addition to works on paper, graphic art and the "Suite Vollard" were the main focus of Picasso's artistic work in 1933.