1933 (May 4, Paris)
Etching printed on Montval laid paper
The 46 etchings of the “Sculptor’s Studio” series have long been understood as a meditation on the nature of art: its creation, its players, and its appreciation. In this image, we have elements of all three. The model (who resembles Marie-Thérèse Walter, Picasso’s mistress) contemplates a sculpture of her torso. Her relaxed posture and the lush surroundings underscore the languorous atmosphere of the studio.
The style Picasso used in this plate is different from the majority of the prints in the Suite Vollard, which are generally composed of simple contour lines. Here, the two figures are covered in hatch marks and heavily shaded. The walls of the studio are also textured. Picasso’s heavily-worked image seems to draw attention to the very fact that it is a work of art, thus completing a clever visual puzzle: we admire a work of art that represents a work of art and the very model for that work, who is also—in reality—a representation.