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Au Bain, Femme au Chapeau à Fleurs et Femme drapée dans une Serviette (Bloch 210)

1934 (January 29, Paris)

Etching printed on Montval laid paper with Montgolfier watermark
From the Suite Vollard (S.V. 79), edition of 50 
Signed by the artist in pencil, lower right
Inscribed "345" in pencil, lower left margin; "41" in pencil, lower right margin 
Printed by Lacourière, 1939
Published by Vollard, 1939
Image: 10 7/8 x 7 3/4 inches
Sheet: 19 3/4 x 15 1/4 inches
Framed: 22 1/4 x 18 5/8 inches
(Bloch 210( (Baer 408.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. In this context, the present plate can be understood as a reference to the use of costume and props in the studio. While a majority of the figures in the Suite Vollard are nude, sometimes adorned with a bit of garland, the two models here wear various garments and accessories. The hat on the seated model at left is so exaggerated in its nineteenth-century style as to be almost costume-like.

 

The chin strap and pearls she wears heighten the effect of artifice. Likewise, the drapery on the model at right is dramatic—she is wrapped to the point of constriction, particularly around the throat. Neither of the models reference any similar imagery in Picasso’s work—this plate appears to be a singular flight of fancy for the artist. However, as is the case for a majority of the images in the Suite, the women shown bear a close resemblance to the artist’s young blonde mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter.

 

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.