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Max Ernst settled in New York in 1941 after escaping from Europe with the help of Peggy Guggenheim. The same year he executed a small oil on cardboard that became the basis for the large-scale The Antipope. When Peggy saw the small version, she interpreted a dainty horse-human figure on the right as Ernst, who was being fondled by a woman she identified as herself. She wrote that Ernst conceded that a third figure, depicted in a three-quarter rear view, was her daughter Pegeen; she did not attempt to identify another horse-headed female to the left.