References: Bloch 1; Baer 2 II b 2/c, before the cancellation of the plate, possibly an early proof between the 1904 and 1912 Vollard edition for the Saltimbanques suite; less likely, but possibly Baer II 2, from among the proofs before steelfacing sold by Sagot after the edition of 30 Provenance: Private collection, U.S.A.; And by descent (until 2013); to Private collection, U.S.A. Aside from an experimental etching executed in 1899, Le Repas Frugal represents Picasso’s first venture into the print medium. In 1904 Picasso returned from Barcelona to Paris, after being forced to leave a year earlier due to a lack of funds. Le Repas Frugal reflects Picasso’s own impoverished state, as well as that of other artists and poets who lived near him on the rue Ravignan in Montmartre. Such was his financial situation at the time that Le Repas Frugal was etched on a piece of zinc previously used by another artist. The subject derives from a late nineteenth century tradition of café scenes, but is given a modernist interpretation by Picasso. Works by Impressionists such as Degas’ Absinthe Drinkers portray bourgeois patrons drinking alone or in pairs in a more stylized setting. Picasso amplifies the figures’ detachment and forsakes the pretty middle-class café for the grittiness of the impoverished urban life that he himself was experiencing. Picasso created Le Repas Frugal in September 1904, when it first was published by Eugène Delâtre, but only 30 impressions were pulled, and the print did not meet with much commercial success. In 1913, Ambrose Vollard steel-faced and published Le Repas Frugal along with thirteen other prints Picasso created in 1904/05. Entitled Les Saltimbanques the series reflects Picasso’s increasing preoccupation with circus performers and harlequins.