La Bonne dans l’Atelier de Sculpture
La Bonne dans l’Atelier de Sculpture (Bloch 184)

1933 (May 3, Paris)

Etching printed on Montval laid paper with Montgolfier watermark
From the Suite Vollard (S.V. 71), edition of 50
Signed by the artist in pencil, lower right
Inscribed "332" in pencil,  lower right; "184, 332, 19566" in pencil, upper left verso 
Printed by Lacourière, 1939
Published by Vollard, 1939
Image: 14 3/4 x 11 5/8 inches
Sheet: 19 3/4 x 15 1/4 inches
Framed: 28 1/2 x 24 3/4 inches
(Bloch 184) (Baer 343.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 activity here is a clear example of the latter. In this image, a “bonne” (maid) daydreams, her arm resting on an oversized head of the sculptor. Though out of place, she seems to be pleased by what she sees. If Picasso intended to comment on the appreciation of art in his Suite, he sends a clear message in this image that it can (and should) be enjoyed by all.

 

While many of the sculptures represented in the “Sculptor’s Studio” suggest actual works that Picasso created during the same period, a number of them are more in line with classical marbles. The female nude, seen from behind, follows the general ideals of feminine beauty in ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. The head below, with its curly hair and luxurious beard, recalls the Roman portraiture tradition and appears in a number of plates of the Suite Vollard.
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.