devant son Tableau (Painter in front of his easel) is from
1927 and one of Picasso's earliest etchings. He created only 18
prints of that medium in 1927 compared to later years when he would
create hundreds of etchings in a year.
In early 1927 Picasso meets Marie-Thérèse
and has a secret relationship with her while being with Olga who he had
married in 1918. Could the young artist in this image be Picasso
painting a portrait of his new secret love? The first documented
painting of Marie-Thérèse
is not until 1932.
This etching is plate 11 of 13 used to illustrate the book "Le chef d'oeuvre
inconnu" by d'honore' de Balzac (1799-1799) as published
by Ambroise Vollard in 1931. The theme for all of the 13 etchings
was to be the artist and model. It is clear that this etching is
a precursor to the classical Vollard Suite which was created over the
next 10 years.
The etching is from the collection of Picasso's grand daughter, Marina
Picasso (born in 1951). It is one of the few and rare trial
proofs before the etching plate was steel faced and the full edition of
99 was then printed. There was also a smaller margin book edition
of 340 copies.
In November of 1948 Picasso was asked to create a lithograph of Balzac
by his lithographer, Fernand Mourlot. By the next day Picasso had
created not one, but rather eight lithographs and three larger
compositions in response to Mourlot's request.
is a modern technique whereby the soft copper plate into which the
etched receives a thin coat of steel via electroplating in order to
In this way an edition can be printed from beginning to end
degradation of image quality, unlike Rembrandt etchings, for example,
bare copper plates wore down from the pressure of the press over the
printing an edition. This resulted in a visible softening of
a diminishing of subtle contrasts and tonal depth in examples from late
Although steel facing allows for consistent quality
edition and is thus an improvement over a bare copper plate, the
necessarily reduces textural delicacy and tonal depth to some degree.
Therefore, proofs before steel facing are the ultimate vehicles for
both the full expressive capacity of the etching process and in so
of the artist's hand.