Theatre ou Télévision: cape et Épée, 1968, plate 87 from the 347 SeriesThis original aquatint and drypoint, Théâtre ou Télévision: cape et Épée, 1968 is plate 87 from the 347 Series. This etching was signed by Picasso and numbered from the edition of 50.

Between March 16 and October 5, 1968, Picasso created 347 etchings and aquatints (some days completing 2 or 3 etching plates), an astonishing outpouring of energy when Picasso was 86 years old.  The series began
shortly after the death of his companion and friend, Catalan poet Jaime Sabartés (1881-1968).  Picasso dedicated a set of proofs in his memory.

In this large group of images Picasso references earlier subjects such as French writer Honoré Balzac (1799-1850) , Rembrandt (1606-1669), El Greco (1541-1614) and also his family -- parents, wives and mistresses -- who often appear as performers, sometimes set in circus scenes. 

This image appears to be a portrayal of the cloak and dagger films and productions based on the writing of Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870).

With irony and ribald humor Picasso reviewed his life in this series, his failing powers and his place in history.  In fact, Picasso is often observed in many of the 347 Series images as voyeur in these images of fantasy and imagination.

The 347 Series was printed in collaboration with brothers Piero (1934-2001) and Aldo Crommelynck who, in 1963, set up a studio in Mougins when Picasso was 82 years old.  Picasso's prolific production relied on the absolute trust he had between himself and the master engravers.   The series was exhibited and published by the Galerie Louise Leiris (Paris) in late 1968 and 1969.  The etchings were not given titles by Picasso as the artist usually had no use for them.

This etching is an excellent example of Picasso's mixed media graphics.  In this case a combination of the tonal quality achieved by aquatint and the linear detail of drypoint.