Like many of the other examples given here, the relationships show how Picasso was preoccupied throughout his life with reworking the same handful of themes and motifs.
In this case, the central figures of both pictures are in poses of crucifixion. The right hand figures in each of the compositions are emerging from behind a curtain. The meaning of this would seem to be the emerging of an unforeseen threat.
Further, important similarities can be found in Picasso's preparatory sketches for "Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon," for they correspond intricately with elements in The Unknown Masterpiece.
For example, there is a hidden skull and a number maritime motifs in The Unknown Masterpiece which correspond with the skull and maritime motifs in the preparatory sketches for "Les Desmoiselles". Also, there is a cryptic allusion to the Hanged Man in the Tarot in the Unknown Masterpiece which is closely associated symbolically to the seated figure with crossed legs in the preparatory sketches.
Furthermore, the isolated hand above the left hand figure's head in Les Desmoiselles, corresponds identically, in a symbolic sense, with the flying arm in The Unknown Masterpiece. Please refer to the following sections for more detailed information