Deux Femmes au Bain
Deux Femmes au Bain (Bloch 209)

1934 (January 29, Paris)

Etching printed on laid Montval with Picasso watermark
From the Suite Vollard (S.V. 80), edition of 260 
Inscribed "209, 344, 19639" in pencil, upper left verso 
Printed by Lacourière, 1939
Published by Vollard, 1939
Image: 10 7/8 x 7 3/4 inches
Sheet: 17 3/4 x 13 3/8 inches
Framed:  22 5/16 x 18 1/2 inches
(Bloch 209) (Baer 407.B.d)

The subject of beautiful young women bathing has been treated by artists throughout the centuries. In this image, Picasso shows two elegant and athletic nudes, both of whom resemble his mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter, at a traditional bath, apparently in conversation. One rests on a stone bench while the other dries her hair, standing in the water. Though the standing figure’s mouth is obscured by her raised arm, the two share eye contact and the one at left seems to be listening intently to her companion’s words. Picasso indicates the water level with a few subtle strokes at the standing woman’s knees, and a simple horizontal line at center.

 

Picasso brings a modern twist to this traditional scene by playing with the formal elements of the composition where the two women overlap, distorting it in a number of ways. The standing woman’s left leg is out of proportion to the rest of the body and her torso twists in a somewhat unnatural way in order to show her feminine attributes to their greatest advantage. Likewise, the foot of the seated woman should rightly be obscured by the standing woman’s hips. Such exaggerations and illogical abstractions become increasingly pronounced in Picasso’s work over the following decade, particularly in his depictions of the female body.

 

The current impression is from the edition of 260 printed on Montval laid paper watermarked “Vollard” and “Picasso”. (There was also an edition of fifty with wide margins and a separate watermark, and 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.