Buste de Femme au Fichu
Buste de Femme au Fichu (Bloch 324)

1939

Aquatint, burin, and scraper printed on Montval laid paper
From the edition of 56 of the second (final) state
Printed by Lacourière, 1942
Image: 10 x 8 5/8 inches
Sheet: 18 1/4 x 29 1/2 inches
Framed: 28 7/8 x 23 3/4 inches
(Bloch 324) (Baer 672.II.B.b)

Buste de Femme au Fichu is a rare example of relatively straightforward portrait of Dora Maar. She is shown in profile with a scarf around her hair, a serene smile on her face. Maar’s temperament was changeable, and here Picasso depicts her in a moment of sweetness. As noted by Maar’s biographer, Mary Ann Caws, friends and acquaintances recall that her eyes could be either “compassionate and kind, or intense and burning” – her neighbor remembered that they had “extraordinary gentleness and depth”.i In this etching, Picasso reveals what they must have seen; the deep, endless eyes are framed by her famous lashes and dramatic brow.

 

At this point in his career, Picasso was fluent with the various approaches available to him in intaglio, and he makes full use of them here. Drypoint is combined with stop-out, sugar-lift, and scraper to achieve a wide range of subtle tonal changes and varied mark-making. This lends depth and interest to the image and—by extension—reflects the same qualities in Maar’s character.

 

 

i Picasso’s Weeping Woman: The Life and Art of Dora Maar [London: Thames and Hudson, 2000], 10.