As Femme aux Bras Croises typifies Picasso's Blue Period, so does The Family of Saltimbanques for the Purple. This mammoth work from 1905 measures 7 x 8 feet. The barren landscape found here is possibly from his time in Andalucia, southern Spain. Fellow Spaniard, Salvador Dali, followed a similar route in several of his surrealist paintings, using the landscape of his home to provide bright but simple backdrops to his main content. Strong critical comparisons were made between Picasso's Family of Saltimbanques and several Manet paintings of several decades earlier. Both were bold artists, who provided their respective genres with new ideas and inspirations.

Artist Picasso includes himself in this work as the Harlequin, with other people in his life also included. It was never confirmed as to who was who, but the likelihood is that his younger sister, Conchita, is the child held by Picasso.