This work was painted during what is commonly known as Picasso's 'Blue Period'. The artist was greatly affected by the suicide of a close friend in 1901, and subsequently produced a series of paintings in melancholy blue tones. The painting was also influenced by Picasso's regular visits to a women's prison-hospital in Paris. The misery of those women, many of whom had babies or young children, seems to have struck a chord with the artist. The pose of the figure in this painting, with her face turned away from the viewer, suggests her suffering and shame. This was the first painting by Picasso to enter the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland.