Femme Nue Assise et Trois Tetes Barbues, from the Vollard Suite

PicassoB216Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) etching, drypoint, burin and aquatint Femme Nue Assise et Trois Tetes Barbues, signed in pencil lower right, from the Vollard Suite, from the total edition of 300, with full margins in excellent condtion (5 1/8 x 7 1/8, the sheet 17 1/4 x 13 1/2), on cream wove paper, archival acid free matting.  References: Suite Vollard 25, Bloch 216, Geiser 416.

A very fine, strong impression, with the burin and drypoint work at the right effectively counterposing the aquatint work evident at the left (in the figure of Marie Therese).

Femme Nue Assise was one of Picasso’s earliest works using aquatint, and the development of the print was quite complex.  Initially the plate was aquatinted, using the sugar lift aquatint process (Picasso brushed the figures on the plate with an ink/sugar syrup mixture; the plate was then varnished and dipped in water, and where the sugar melted, the varnish is stripped off; then the plate is grained and dipped into acid. The area where the acid bites into the grain is where he brushed the plate, and this will hold ink and can be printed).  The woman at the left (Marie-Therese, his mistress at the time) remained in aquatint, untouched, while Picasso worked on the images of the man at the right in etching, drypoint, with a scraper, and with an engraving tool (the burin).   He developed the plate in 6 states before the final state which was editioned for Vollard.

It’s not clear whether Marie is dreaming of the three images of the same man, or he is dreaming of her.  Each of the men has a different expression.  Picasso biographer and scholar Brigitte Baer has suggested that since she remains intact through the extensive work that Picasso did on the plate, she is the dream image of these three bearded sculptors.