May 21, 2020 - Sale 2537

Sale 2537 - Lot 409

Price Realized: $ 57,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 50,000 - $ 80,000
Faune dévoilant une femme.

Aquatint, etching and scraper, 1934. 316x417 mm; 12 1/2x16 1/2 inches, full margins. Edition of 260. Signed in pencil, lower right. Picasso watermark. Printed by Lacourière, Paris. Published by Vollard, Paris. A superb, richly-inked impression of this large, important etching.

Faune dévoilant une femme is one of 100 different etchings from the Vollard Suite, a series Picasso (1881-1977) produced from 1930 to 1937 for Parisian publisher Ambroise Vollard. While over 300 sets were printed, complete suites are exceedingly rare, instead the prints from this series now are often found individually.

The suite spans the years of Picasso's passionate, sometimes tumultuous affair with his teenage model and muse Marie-Thérèse Walter. Many of the earlier works in the series portray a sculptor in his studio among his work--alluding to the classical myth of Pygmalion. The later prints become increasingly dark as both his relationship with Marie-Thérèse waned and Europe marched toward World War II.

This particular print, regarded as one of the most graphically ambitious and important subjects in the series, marks a turning point in Picasso's relationship with Marie-Thérèse, as it was made when Picasso learned that she was pregnant with his child in 1934 (their daughter Maya Widmaier-Picasso, born September 5, 1935). Her pregnancy marked the end of Picasso's then marriage to the Ballet Russe dancer Olga Koklova and also the beginning of the end of his relationship with his young model (just one year later he would meet Dora Maar--with whom Marie-Thérèse would become embattled over Picasso's affection).

This print, however, portrays a tranquil scene of a sleeping woman--likely Marie-Thérèse--her fertile feminine features illuminated by moonlight coming through the open window to the left, with a stout faun (possibly intended to symbolize Picasso himself) resting on one knee and thoughtfully watching her at rest.

The onset of World War II and the sudden death of the publisher Vollard in a car crash in the south of France in 1939 delayed the distribution of this seminal suite, certainly one of the most important print series ever created by an artist, it was not released until the 1950s. Bloch 230; Baer 609.