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Garçon pensif veillant une Dormeuse à la Lumière d’une Chandelle (Bloch 226)

1934 (November 18, Paris)

Etching, aquatint and burin with scraper printed on Montval laid paper with Vollard watermark 
From the Suite Vollard (S.V. 26), edition of 50 of the third (final) state
Signed by the artist in pencil, lower right
Inscribed "385" in pencil, lower left
Printed by Lacourière, 1939
Published by Vollard, 1939
Image: 9 1/4 x 11 5/8 inches
Sheet: 15 1/4 x 19 3/4 inches
(Bloch 226) (Baer 440.III.B.c)

This plate was created in November of 1934 and shares the complex iconography and psychological drama of later plates in the suite. The candle that illuminates the young woman in this scene also appears in one of Picasso’s most celebrated prints, La Minotauromachie (Bloch 288) of 1935—a deeply charged and somewhat disturbing etching. Here, the mood is somber. The young man who appears in the sidelines of the later plates of the Suite Vollard takes a starring role, quietly gazing at a beautiful and voluptuous sleeping woman who is bathed in candlelight. The composition and subject are also quite similar to the following plate in the series (according to Hans Bolliger’s numbering system), Faune dévoilant une Dormeuse (Jupiter et Antiope, d'après Rembrandt) (Bloch 230). This image was created much later, in June of 1936, but Bolliger likely placed the two etchings in sequence due to their similarities. In each plate, a sleeping nude who resembles Picasso’s mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter is bathed in soft light. As she slumbers, she is gazed upon by a male admirer. In Garçon pensif veillant une Dormeuse à la Lumière d'une Chandelle, the mood is somewhat foreboding and the young man appears to be in thought.

 

Marie-Thérèse became pregnant around the time this print was made but scholars are not certain when she told Picasso. Some have surmised he may have recently learned the news when he etched this image, and the young man represents the artist’s initial contemplation of their expectant child. In support of this theory, the woman’s white abdomen and round breasts, placed at the center of the composition, define a strong focal point that seems to indicate this may be the subject behind Garçon pensif veillant une Dormeuse à la Lumière d'une Chandelle.

 

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.