La Taberna. Jeune Pêcheur catalan racontant sa Vie à un Vieux Pêcheur barbu
La Taberna. Jeune Pêcheur catalan racontant sa Vie à un Vieux Pêcheur barbu (Bloch 228)

1934 (November 29, Paris)

Etching printed on Montval laid paper
From the Suite Vollard (S.V. 12), edition of 260
Inscribed "376" in pencil, lower left margin; "u.l. 228 19494 376" in pencil on verso 
Printed by Lacourière, 1939
Published by Vollard, 1939
Image: 9 1/4 x 11 5/8 inches
Sheet: 13 3/8 x 17 3/4 inches
(Bloch 228) (Baer 442.B.d)

In this image, a young man drawn in simple contour line speaks with an older man depicted with a proliferation of overlapping marks. They are both in ancient Greek fisherman attire. The young man appears to be telling a story that is of deep interest to the elder. This is the first appearance of this youthful Greek mariner who features in several plates of the Suite Vollard, particularly the later plates that are categorized under the Blind Minotaur heading (Bloch 222 – Bloch 225). In these images, the man stands on the sidelines with a calm and pensive look on his face. Picasso scholar Brigitte Baer interprets this etching as an overt indication of Picasso’s narrative intent with the Suite Vollard, which she argues is the primary impulse behind Picasso’s printmaking practice as a whole.i This interpretation of the Suite Vollard seems to be supported by Francoise Gilot’s account of her first encounter with the prints in her memoire Life with Picasso, in which the discusses them in terms of a grand narrative taking place on the island of Crete, the mythical home of the Minotaur—a man/beast that also features prominently in later plates of the suite.ii

 

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.

 

 

i See Baer, Picasso the Printmaker: Graphics from the Marina Picasso Collection, Dallas Museum of Art, 1983, 89 and Baer, Picasso the Engraver:
Selections from the Musée Picasso, Paris, Thames & Hudson, 1997, 11
ii Virago Press, 1990 [reprint of 1964 McGraw-Hill edition], 41-44).