Commissioned by the art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard, Pablo Picasso made one hundred etchings between 13 September 1930 and March 1937, which passed into the history of art under the name Suite Vollard.
The set of 100 etchings appeared in 1939 in two formats, one large (760 x 500 mm) on vellum paper signed by the artist in red or black pencil, with 50 prints per plate, and another print run of 250 copies in a smaller format (445 x 340 mm) on Montval glazed paper with the watermark “Vollard” or “Picasso”.
This second format is now scattered as loose sheets in various private and public collections, and only some of these sets, such as the MAPFRE FOUNDATION, are complete. The complicated history of the origin of the work, its thematic variety and technical diversity, where different composition styles combine: chisel, etching, aquatint, gouache and drypoint, and even combinations of these – although complete collections are now rare – encouraged the popularity and dispersion of the prints. Due to this, Suite Vollard is one of the most important historic and artistic testimonials of the 20th century.
The complete series includes three Portraits of Vollard, five etchings on the theme The battle of love – also called Rape – and made in 1933, forty-six etchings on The sculptor’s studio (forty engraved between 20 March and 5 May 1933, and six between January and March 1934), four etchings on Rembrandt (made between 27 and 31 July 1934), fifteen etchings on The minotaur and The blind minotaur (made between 17 May and 18 June and between 22 September and 22 October 1933) and twenty-seven compositions on Free themes. The engravings do not follow any logical sequence in their images, their chronology being due more to external events and the artist’s personal life.
Suite Vollard fully shows Picasso’s dialectic, oscillating between order and violence, classicism and modernity. Most of the themes that appear on the plates have been present in his work, but when he returns to them, he transforms them, giving them a fuller meaning.
Palacio das Artes, Porto. Largo São Domingos 19, 4050-265 Porto
Image: Pablo Picasso. Femme nue assise, la Tête appuyée sur la Main [Seated nude] March 9, 1934. Burin/ Montval laid paper. Fundación MAPFRE’s Collections © Succession Picasso 2019