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Picasso Suite Vollard

Park West Picasso Collection

Femme Nue Couronnee de Fleurs

Femme Nue Couronnee de Fleurs

Etching on Montval laid paper, signed in pencil, lower right. From the edition of 250 examples (an edition of 50 examples on paper with large margins, and 3 examples on parchment vellum also exist). Published by Ambroise Vollard, Paris 1939.

Picasso's Suite Vollard ranks among the greatest graphic achievements of the 20th century, and is considered Picasso's masterpiece of etching in suite form.

Ambroise Vollard was one of the greatest art dealers and publishers of the 20th century. Vollard's early support of legendary masters of modern art such as Cezanne, Renoir, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Rouault, and, of course, Pablo Picasso demonstrates his astute artistic instincts. Picasso met Vollard in 1901, the same year that he arranged an exhibition of works by the twenty-year-old artist, and in 1902, Vollard showed Picasso's first "Blue Period" works. Picasso respected Vollard and knew that he had access to many of the wealthy patrons he needed to advance his career. In 1934, when Picasso asked to buy a Renoir and a Cezanne painting from Vollard's private collection, the dealer instead offered to swap the paintings for a group of one hundred plates - the future Suite Vollard. The set included 97 plates along with three portraits of Vollard. The term "suite" is something of a misnomer. La Suite Vollard is more of a compilation assembled by Picasso from seven years' work that he considered important and which he also thought would appeal to Vollard. The majority of the plates are line etchings (occasionally with drypoint), a technique in which Picasso was especially expert. On several of the plates Picasso used "sugar-lift" or "lift-ground" aquatint, a variation of etching that allowed him to paint his design directly onto the plate.

The five major themes - The Battle of Love, The Sculptor's Studio, Rembrandt, The Minotaur, and the portraits of Vollard at first seem disconnected but upon viewing the suite in its entirety one senses a tone throughout. Stylistically most of the images reveal the neo-classical phase of Picasso's work since Picasso had come into contact with ancient art a year earlier in Rome. This influence was to appear as a dominant theme in his etchings and drawings throughout the 1920's and 1930's. Picasso's young mistress and muse Marie-Therese Walter is at the center of the suite. She is found throughout with her wide, oval face centered by a Roman nose bridging straight from the forehead and crowned with short, cropped hair.

Examples of etchings from La Suite Vollard can be found in important museum collections throughout the world, and discussed in nearly every published book or article that deals with Picasso's graphic oeuvre.

For more information on the Park West Gallery Picasso Collection:
(800)-521-9654 xt. 4 or (248) 354-2343.