Jeune Sculpteur au Travail


© Picasso Estate / SODRAC (2013)

Jeune Sculpteur au Travail
Dated 23 March 1933
Etching on Montval laid paper with the Vollard watermark
Framed: 10 9/16 x 7 3/4 in.
Signed Picasso (in pencil, lower right)
Plate 46 from La Suite Vollard
(B. 156; G 309/II, S.V.46)

From the edition of 260 (there was also an edition of fifty with wider margins), published by A. Vollard, Paris, 1939, the full sheet, a deckle edge on three sides, very pale time staining at the sheet edges, otherwise in very good condition


Pablo Picasso , intr. by Hans Bollinger, Suite Vollard, Ed. Arthur Niggli, Teufen (AR), Switzerland 1956, no.46

Geiser, Bernhard, Picasso Peintre Graveur, Kornfeld & Klipstein, Bern 1968, no. 309/II

Georges Bloch, Pablo Picasso, Catalogue de l’Oeuvre Gravé et Lithographié 1904-1967, Kornfeld & Klipstein, Bern 1969, no. 156

In June 1930 Picasso purchased the Château de Boisgeloup, halfway between Paris and Rouen, an elegant but modest manoir with no electricity, central heating, or modern bathrooms. In this “unheatable barn, riddled with drafts”, as he described it, Picasso set up a studio where he devoted himself mainly to sculpture. On weekends his wife Olga and son Paolo would come for a visit from Paris; during the week his young lover Marie-Thérèse Walter would keep him company. At Boisgeloup, Picasso would create several extraordinary sculptures of Marie-Thérèse, whose youth and classical features enraptured him.


Photo of Marie-Thérèse Walter by Picasso, c.1930
© archives Maya Widmaier-Picasso


Plasters of Bust of Woman, and Head of a Woman, Boisgeloup, Dec. 1932
Photo by Brassaï, Archives Picasso, Musee Picasso, Paris

“I could see that she was certainly the woman who had inspired Pablo plastically more than any other. She had a very arresting face with a Grecian profile. The whole series of portraits of blonde women Pablo painted between 1927 and 1935 are almost exact replicas of her. . . . Her forms were handsomely sculptural, with a fullness of volume and a purity of line that gave her body and her face an extraordinary perfection.“ [1]

Francoise Gilot

In the engravings of the Vollard Suite, on which Picasso also worked at the time, he repeatedly contemplated about a classical sculptor’s feelings for his work and his model. The ‘sculptor in his studio’ is subject of 46 engravings in the Vollard Suite, almost half of the entire series.

The present etching shows a young sculptor with Apollonian features, holding a knife in his left hand, carving the bust of a woman. His torso is unclothed, only his head crowned by vines, that also entangle the female bust in front of him. The sculptor’s eyes are firmly focused on his work, his expression that of uncompromised concentration. The sculpture in the image sits on a classical Doric capital and very much resembles a plaster bust of Marie-Thérèse, Picasso had created several months earlier at Boisgeloup, which depicts her with an enlarged, phallic nose.

The creation of this print falls into an extraordinarily productive phase of Picasso’s life.  Between mid-March to early May 1933 he created no less than forty prints for the Vollard suite, sometimes up to four prints in one day.  His artistic inspiration might have been fired up by his passionate affair with his young mistress, or it may be blamed on the lack of heating at Boisgeloup: “But I can tell you one thing” Picasso remarked in a letter from is country retreat to the photographer Brassai: “– cold stimulates you; it keeps the mind alert…. You work to keep warm, and you keep warm by working.”[2]



[1] Francoise Gilot and Carlton Lake, Life withPicasso, New York 1964, p. 241 f.

[2] Francoise Gilot and Carlton Lake, Life with Picasso, New York 1964, p.153

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