What is usually designated as the Rose Period of Picasso extends from the end of 1904 to his first Cubist experiments in 1907. The name is evidently meant to suggest an analogy with the preceding Blue Period, but the Rose Period cannot be demarcated as clearly as the other (in fact, according to some writers it begins in the second half of 1905) nor do the works produced during it display the same characteristic uniformity as those of the Blue Period. In his basic monograph on Picasso, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., does not follow the usual classification; and he deserves special credit for having distinguished the various developmental stages within the Rose Period, most of them covering no more than six months, and also for having established their correct chronological sequence. We shall nevertheless retain the usual designation here, not merely because it has become customary, but because it actually has a certain symbolic significance. In the first place, Picasso's material well-being improved at that time, and as a result of his growing success he began to discover the brighter aspects of life. The stimulating circle of friends from the Bateau-lavoir was enriched by, among others, the young Spanish painter Juan Gris and the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who encouraged Picasso on his path toward self-liberation. At the same time collectors like the American writer Gertrude Stein And the Russian merchant Sergei Shchukin, who bought many of Picasso's works (these were later placed in the Museum of Western Modern Art in Moscow), encouraged him by their interest and financial help. Finally, the transition from the shadow-like blue to warmer, positive colors also marks a change in the artist's attitude toward his work. During his Blue Period Picasso had striven to express his innermost feelings; between 1905 and 1907, as his palette became neutralized and acquired a more positive tonality, this subjective approach yielded increasingly to objective expression. His effort to eliminate subjective moods from his paintings led him gradually to Cubism.
During the last months of 1904 and the first half of 1905, Picasso produced a group of works that are closely related even from a purely thematic point of view: all of them treat the world of acrobats or saltimbanques. They belong to what Barr calls the "Circus Period."
Clown on Horseback Cl. Cat. 25