Pablo Picasso - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, October 24, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Between 1930 and 1937, Picasso embarked on a series of one hundred etchings titled La Suite Vollard. The project was commissioned by its namesake, Ambroise Vollard, one of the most influential art dealers in Europe at the time. Many of the details surrounding the commission and how Vollard intended to present the finished suite remain a mystery, as the dealer was killed in a car crash in 1939 just weeks after the edition was printed. Despite the speculation surrounding their original context, the etchings of La Suite Vollard function almost as individual diary entries covering this seminal period of Picasso’s life and career. Illustrating a huge variety of motifs that frequent the artist’s wider oeuvre, La Suite Vollard also documents the artist’s desire for his mistress and muse at the time, Marie-Thérèse Walter. Although still married to his wife of nine years, the Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova, Picasso became romantically involved with Marie-Thérèse – who was twenty-eight years his junior – in 1927. The production of La Suite Vollard stretched over the entirety of Picasso’s affair with Marie-Thérèse, and she subsequently appears in many of the individual etchings.


    Upon first meeting the seventeen-year-old Marie-Thérèse, Picasso was allegedly struck by her Grecian profile and reportedly said, “Mademoiselle, you have an interesting face. I would like to do a portrait of you. I feel we are going to do great things together...I am Picasso.” Picasso’s obsession with the young woman’s profile is evident through the artist’s many depictions of Marie-Thérèse, whose strong classical nose is frequently exaggerated in his artworks. Although not mentioned by name in the title assigned to this etching, the reclining figure to the left of the eighty-second plate from La Suite Vollard certainly draws similarities to other portraits Picasso produced of his young lover. Depicting four female figures either sitting or reclining in classical-inspired postures, Quatre femmes nues et tête sculptée (Four Nude Women and a Carved Head) demonstrates Picasso’s interest in Neoclassicism, while also engaging with the theme of sculptor and muse which pervades many prints from La Suite Vollard. In earlier plates, the likeness of Marie-Thérèse features as a model for a bearded sculptor, with the latter character serving as one of Picasso’s alter egos. In plate eighty-two, Marie-Thérèse gazes up at the bearded sculptor who, in this instance, is represented as a bust. Throughout these etchings, Picasso uses the relationship between the bearded sculptor and Marie-Thérèse to consistently suggest an analogy between making art and making love. Similarly, the dedication and care required to create this incredibly detailed etching – and La Suite Vollard in its entirety – serves as an analogy for Picasso’s infatuation with his muse.

    • Literature

      Georges Bloch 219
      Brigitte Baer 424

    • Artist Biography

      Pablo Picasso

      Spanish • 1881 - 1973

      One of the most dominant and influential artists of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso was a master of endless reinvention. While significantly contributing to the movements of Surrealism, Neoclassicism and Expressionism, he is best known for pioneering the groundbreaking movement of Cubism alongside fellow artist Georges Braque in the 1910s. In his practice, he drew on African and Iberian visual culture as well as the developments in the fast-changing world around him.

      Throughout his long and prolific career, the Spanish-born artist consistently pushed the boundaries of art to new extremes. Picasso's oeuvre is famously characterized by a radical diversity of styles, ranging from his early forays in Cubism to his Classical Period and his later more gestural expressionist work, and a diverse array of media including printmaking, drawing, ceramics and sculpture as well as theater sets and costumes designs. 

      View More Works

Property from a Distinguished Maryland Estate


Quatre femmes nues et tête sculptée (Four Nude Women and a Carved Head), plate 82 from La Suite Vollard (Bl. 219, Ba. 424)

Etching, scraper and burin, on laid Montval paper watermarked Vollard, with full margins.
I. 8 5/8 x 12 1/4 in. (21.9 x 31.1 cm)
S. 13 1/4 x 17 5/8 in. (33.7 x 44.8 cm)

Signed in pencil, from the edition of 260 (there was also an edition of 50 with wide margins), published by Ambroise Vollard, Paris, 1939, framed.

Full Cataloguing

$20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for $24,130

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Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 24-26 October 2023