Pablo Picasso (1881–1973)
Young sculptor at work, plate 46 of the Vollard Suite
Etching, 23 March 1933.
Presented by the Hamish Parker Charitable Trust in memory of Major Horace Parker.
© Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2011.
Source: British Museum
This exhibition celebrates the recent acquisition of these etchings, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Hamish Parker. It is the only complete Vollard Suite held by a public museum in the UK.
The prints were made when Picasso was involved in a passionate affair with his muse and model, Marie-Thérèse Walter, whose classical features are a recurrent presence in the series. They offer an ongoing process of change and metamorphosis that eludes any final resolution. Picasso gave no order to the plates nor did he assign any titles to them. Picasso kept the plates open-ended to allow connections to be freely made among them, yet certain thematic groupings can also be identified.
The predominant theme of the Vollard Suite is the Sculptor’s Studio (46 etchings), which deals with Picasso’s engagement with classical sculpture. At this point he was making sculpture at his new home and studio, the Château de Boisgeloup outside Paris. The etchings of his young model, Marie-Thérèse, represent a dialogue alternating between the artist and his creation and between the artist and his model.
For the first time the etchings are displayed alongside examples of the type of classical sculpture and objects that Picasso was inspired by, something which the British Museum is in a unique position to do. As well as this, Rembrandt etchings, Goya prints and Ingres drawings from the Prints and Drawings collection will also be displayed as their influence can be seen in some of Picasso’s works.
The Vollard Suite takes its name from Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939), the greatest avant-garde Paris art dealer and print publisher of his day, who gave Picasso his first Paris exhibition in 1901.