Vieux Sculpteur et Jeune Modèle avec le Portrait Sculpté du Modèle
Vieux Sculpteur et Jeune Modèle avec le Portrait Sculpté du Modèle (Bloch 172)

1933 (April 3, Paris)

Etching printed on Montval laid paper with Montgolfier watermark
From the Suite Vollard (S.V. 63), edition of 50
Signed by the artist in pencil, lower right
Inscribed "324" in pencil, lower left; "172, 324, 19563" in pencil, upper left verso 
Printed by Lacourière, 1939
Published by Vollard, 1939
Image: 7 5/8 x 10 1/2 inches
Sheet: 19 3/4 x 15 1/4 inches
Framed: 20 3/4 x 23 inches
(Bloch 172) (Baer 325.B.c)

The forty-six etchings of the “Sculptor’s Studio” series have long been understood as a meditation on the nature of art: its creation, its players, and its appreciation. The artist and model are depicted in a number of plates in appreciation of the fruits of their labor. The nature of appreciation, however, changes: quiet contemplation, active admiration, intellectual discussion, even ecstasy. This etching shows a peaceful and languorous moment in which a generous picture window, one of the largest amongst the “Sculptor’s Studio” images, opens on a yawning Arcadian field that is punctuated by a small vase of flowers at the middle right. This expansive and harmonious scene emphasizes the general air of repose and bliss.


The sculpture at right depicts Picasso's young mistress at the time, Marie-Thérèse Walter, who also serves as the model. Picasso became deeply involved with sculpture in the early 1930s. This image resembles some of his earlier work from that period, which was decidedly more traditional than the abstractions that came later in which he fused Walter’s nose and forehead in a prominent protrusion that dominates the face. (Likewise, Picasso’s earlier prints of Marie-Thérèse were also extremely naturalistic in comparison.)


The current impression is one of fifty deluxe impressions with large margins printed on Montval laid paper watermarked “Papeterie Montgolfier à Montval,” outside of the edition of 260 (there was also a small edition of three). It was printed by Roger Lacourière in late 1938 or early 1939. The untimely death of Ambroise Vollard in the summer of 1939 delayed their commerce until 1948 when the prints were acquired by dealer Henri Petiet through the Vollard estate.