In Picasso’s later years, contemporary art was characterised by formalism (radical abstraction) and Duchamp’s legacy (analysing the nature of art). Given this context, the Musketeers, Picasso’s depictions of lovemaking painted during the last years of his life, were met with contempt from contemporary critics. Art historian and collector Douglas Cooper described them as “the meaningless scribbling of a frenetic old man in the ante-chamber of death,” a view shared by many at the time. A rare exception, David Hockney noted the mastery and pictorial virtuosity of these images, which were displayed at the Palais des Papes in Avignon in 1973. At the end of his life, Picasso identified with the musketeers of the Baroque period. He made their morals – those of Shakespeare, Gracián and Cervantès – his own. He sought to reconcile his dreams of greatness and heroism with the pragmatism and materialism of real life.