In the Summer of 1940 Picasso moved back to Paris. Named as a degenerate artist by the occupying Nazis, he was frequently visited in his studio by Nazi soldiers, who seemed more intrigued with his fame than concerned with any subversive activity. A Nazi soldier visiting Picasso's studio examined a postcard of Guernica. He asked Picasso, 'Did you do this?' Picasso replies, 'No, you did.'
Although Picasso was too famous for the Nazis to harass to any great extent, his life was made very difficult and his output was limited.
In the Spring of 1941 Picasso's lover Marie-Therese returned to Paris with their daughter Maya and he began making a series of drawings and crafted toys for his daughter's amusement. Picasso had already begun another relationship with Dora Maar and during late May and early June 1941 he made a series of portraits of Dora Maar and Marie-Therese executed in a Cubist style of varying abstraction. Picasso's vacillation between the women as models alludes to the same indecision in his personal life, as he continued romantic relations with both women. The present work is the most resolved of a series of seven drawings completed on 9 June 1941 recorded and illustrated in the catalogue raisonné of the artist's work and it is almost as if the features of Dora Maar and Marie-Therese have become merged in one portrait echoing the artist's deeply personal dilemma. This drawing relates closely to Picasso's 1941 masterpiece Buste de femme au chapeau in the Musée Picasso, Paris.