Etching on handmade Vergé de Montval laid paper with watermark "Vollard" 29.8 x 36.8 cm (34 x 44.5 cm). Signed. Sheet 93 from the series of 100 motifs. Édition Vollard, Paris 1939. One of 260 proofs on the smaller paper. - In fine condition, very slightly browned in uttermost upper margin. - Fine impression with strong burr.
Geiser/Baer 369 B.d.; Bloch 201
Acquired by the previous owner in Swiss art trade (1980); since then private collection, South Germany
In 1933 the Parisian art dealer Ambroise Vollard suggested to Pablo Picasso that he should work on a series of etchings. This led to 100 different classical motifs in Picasso's Suite Vollard, from 1933 to 1937, when the artist focused on subjects such as "Sculptor and Model" and "Minotaur". Only very few museums have complete suites, one of them being the British Museum in London. The motif of this sheet, printed with great care and strong burr, was taken from the ancient Greek legends that surrounded Theseus. The two characters in this scene are Ariadne, the daughter of Minos and granddaughter of Zeus, and her half-brother Minotaur who had been the result of an amorous adventure between her mother and a bull. Minotaur, half man and half bull, had been banned by his stepfather to live in a labyrinth, but he can been seen here stroking the cheek of sleeping Ariadne. The scene, which is ambiguous between loving playfulness and erotic lust, was not without a certain biographical poignancy. A close look at Ariadne's well-proportioned facial features and the shape of her head reveals a certain similarity with Picasso's lover at the time, Marie-Thérèse Walter. In this depiction of Minotaur Picasso may have been thinking of himself. It was a well-known fact that this virile artist enjoyed watching bullfights and that he also identified with the strength ascribed to a bull (see comparative illus.). Quite apart from these biographical and literary influences, the voyeurist theme of the "discovery" of vulnerable sleeping women has been an artistic topos from antiquity to the present day. Picasso used the same motif in sheets no. 5 and 27 in his Suite Vollard: "Homme dévoilant une femme" and "Faune dévoilant une dormeuse" (see Geiser/Baer 203, 609; Bloch 138, 230).