Femme veillant une Dormeuse
Femme veillant une Dormeuse (Bloch 238)
Etching printed on Montval laid paper with Picasso watermark
From the edition of 55
Printed by Lacourière, 1942
Image: 7 x 11 3/4 inches 
Sheet: 13 1/4 x 17 3/4 inches
Framed: 17 15/16 x 21 15/16 inches
(Bloch 238) (Baer 261.C)

While he often depicted groups of three women in his earlier work, Picasso began to depict intimate scenes between two women with increasing frequency in the 1930s.  Marie-Thérèse Walter became his mistress in 1927 appearing in many such works, therefore, they are customarily interpreted as a representation of Picasso’s conflicts, desires, and fantasies surrounding his dual love interests.  The seated woman at left resembles Walter while the sleeping woman, who may symbolize his wife Olga, has more generalized features.  Sleeping is a common motif in Picasso’s work of this period which he used to signify a number of emotional states, including loneliness, bliss, and ignorance—the latter in this case.  The hazy quality of the image underscores its symbolic meaning—a depiction of the two women in his life, one of whom is unaware of the other.

Picasso began to experiment with his prints in the 1930s, as seen by this etching.  The plate was left in the acid for an extended period, causing what is commonly referred to as “foul biting”—an effect that results when acid eats through the ground and begins to pit the plate, leaving indistinct areas that print lighter, as well as random spots or shading in negative spaces.  Traditionally it would be undesirable, but Picasso was pleased with the result here, as it served his purpose in reinforcing the meaning behind the imagery.

A few impressions were pulled at the time the plate was created in 1932.  The edition, however, was not printed until 1942 by Lacourière using the same Montval paper on which the Suite Vollard was printed (necessitated by paper shortages during WWII).   Our impression is from the edition of 55 on Montval.