This book is due to the initiative of an association of American bibliophiles, the Limited Editions Club, in New York. The association asked Picasso to illustrate Aristophanes's famous comedy, Lysistrata, a new translation of which had just been completed by Gilbert Seldes. Picasso had known Seldes since the 'twenties. The choice of Picasso as illustrator was certainly influenced by the publication of Ovid's Metamorphoses in 1931, which Pablo Picasso had illustrated for the publisher Albert Skira. Indeed in both Lysistrata and Metamorphoses you find the same classical style, characterized by purity of line and balance of composition.
The comedy, Lysistrata, was written in 411 BC, when war between Athens and Sparta had already been raging for 20 years. Lysistrata, weary of battles in which husbands and sons were slain, incited the Athenian women to leave their conjugal beds until their husband were ready for peace. Picasso apparently knew the play perfectly, although he could not have read the English version he had been commissioned to illustrate. His 6 etchings for the book (done between January 13 and February 4, 1934) as well as the drawings for the 34 lithographs (finished December 26, 1933) follow the text very closely. However, Picasso took the liberty of choosing the scenes which suited him best, so that the illustrations, and particularly the etchings, are distributed unevenly throughout the book.
The text and typography for the portfolio was printed in 1934 by The Printing-Office of The Limited Editions Club in Westport, Connecticut and the etchings were published by Atelier Lacouriere in Paris. An edition of 1500 copies were printed on Rives wove and signed in pencil by the artist and numbered from 1 to 1500.