During the mid 1960s, two themes dominated Picasso's work: firstly, the painter and his model, and secondly the reclining nude. This work brings the two themes together. The majority of the canvas focuses on a female nude, lying recumbent on a couch. The woman is represented with her arms raised and her body tilted at on angle to allow the spectator an uninterrupted view of the naked torso.
Lying Female Nude instantly recalls the famous Naked Maja painted by Francisco Goya in 1797-98. In the original, a great emphasis is placed upon the gaze of the model out towards the viewer. In contrast here, the model gazes modestly downwards. However, the inclusion of a bearded figure, seen in profile on the for left, refocuses our attention on the issue of the gaze. Notably, this figure carries none of the attributes associated with the artist, such as brushes or a palette. However, both the beard and the strict profile are characteristics that Picasso regularly used in his representations of the painter and his model. Thus, by reference to Goya, Picasso conflates both past and present, both spectatorship and artistic creation,