"Homme Dévoilant Une Femme," 1931 from La Suite Vollard by Pablo Picasso
Homme Dévoilant Une Femme from La Suite Vollard, 1931; Drypoint on three sided deckled Montval laid paper; Signed in pencil Picasso bottom right, dated XX-VI-MCM.XXXI in the plate upper right; From the edition of 260, full sheet, with Picasso watermark; Printed by Lacourière, Paris; Published by Vollard, Paris; Size - Plate 366 x 297 mm., Sheet 450 x 339 mm., Frame 38 x 33 1/2"; Framed with a black wood frame and fillet, two acid free linen mats, and UV plexiglass; Catalogue Raisonne: B. 138, Ba. 203 IIBd.
"Mademoiselle, you have an interesting face. I would like to do a portrait of you. I am Picasso. We will do great things together." - Pablo Picasso to Marie-Therese
Picasso's impact on art history can not be understated. His influence is everywhere, and art that has been created since Picasso is the result of either artists emulating him or revolting against him. In addition to painting and sculpture, Picasso was also a master printmaker; and he explored and created new ways of working with the medium. In general terms his prints can be catalogued within series and by dates of completion. The vast majority of original Picasso prints, like those of Matisse, were accomplished in black and white. Color in original prints by Picasso tend to be the browns and muted tones found within the linoleum cuts.
"Homme Dévoilant Une Femme" is from the Vollard Suite. The suite of 100 line etchings (drypoint and aquatint) were created by Picasso in exchange for paintings by Renoir and Cezanne owned by the dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard. The prints were made by Picasso between 1930 - 1937 and it took another two years for the master printer, Roger Lacouriere, to complete the printing of the sets. The edition size is 260, with an additional 50 sets printed with wider margins, and three sets printed on vellum. Not all of the prints are signed and none are individually numbered. Some museums own the entire suite of 100, however most of the sets have been broken up and sold individually. As far as a Picasso series, there is little disagreement that the "Vollard Suite" is Picasso's greatest achievement.
A complete "Vollard Suite" is owned by the National Gallery of Australia, and a complete set was acquired by the British Museum in 2011; after a donation of one million pounds from the financier Hamish Parker in memory of his father. The British Museum had wanted the set for their permanent collection for many years and the director at the time, Neil MacGregor, said is was "one of the institution's most important acquisitions of the past 50 years."
The story of Picasso's first encounter with Marie-Therese Walter on January 8, 1927 is very well documented, and the following paragraph is from J. Richarson, "Through the Eye of Picassso 1928-1934, NY, 1985:
"Outside the Galeries Lafayette, one freezing afternoon, he was captivated by the sight of a very young, very voluptuous blond with intensely piercing blue eyes - the quintessential femme enfant. Picasso grabbed her arm, but his opening gambit almost misfired: 'Mademoiselle, you have an interesting face. I would like to do a portrait of you. I am Picasso.' She had never heard of him; and he was obliged to take her to a nearby bookstore and show her publications in which his photograph appeared. In the course of the maneuver he managed to charm the girl into meeting him two days later at the Metro Saint-Lazare, well away from his usual haunts. 'We will do great things together,' he said and took her to a movie. Despite thirty years difference in age, she found him attractive; she like the way he dressed."
In 1930 Picasso bought a seventeenth-century chateau at Boisgeloup in Normandy, and it was there that his relationship with Marie-Therese reached a climax. For the next five years, she became the subject of his paintings, sculptures, and prints. The art critic William Rubin wrote that "None of Picasso's earlier relationships had provoked such sustained lyric power, such a sense of psychological awareness and erotic completeness... Picasso proceeds from his intense feeling for the girl... he paints the body contemplated, loved and self-contemplating. The vision of another's body becomes an intensely arousing and mysterious process." (Picasso in the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, NY, 1971, p. 138)
"Homme Dévoilant Une Femme" is a rare and early original drypoint by Pablo Picasso from his most famous and celebrated series of prints, "La Suite Vollard." The image shows a nude Picasso lifting a drape from the face of, his then lover at the time, the young Marie-Therese Walter. It is hand signed in pencil "Picasso" bottom right and dated XX-VI-MCM.XXXI (June 20, 1931) in the plate, upper right. The plate measures 366x298 mm (14 1/2" x 11 3/4"), and the sheet has full margins. It is from the edition of 260, with the Picasso watermark, printed by Lacourière, Paris, and published by Vollard, Paris. This is a brilliant and richly-inked impression, with velvety-black burr throughout; and it is custom museum framed using using a black wood frame, two linen mats, a black wood fillet, and UV conservation clear glass. A stand out piece for any Fine Art Collection!
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