Le Serment des Femmes

Pablo Picasso
Le Serment des Femmes
etching
1934

An original Pablo Picasso etching.

(The Oath of the Women)

1934

Original etching printed in black ink on Rives wove paper bearing the “BFK” script lettered watermark.

A strong, clear and clean impression of Geiser’s second and final state, printed after the steelfacing of the plate, from the book edition of 1500 (apart from the pencil signed and numbered deluxe edition of 150).  Plate I of VI illustrating the Gilbert Seldes version of the Aristophanes play Lysistrata, published by the Limited Editions Club, New York; printed by Roger Lacouriere, Paris. 

Catalog: Bloch 267; Geiser 387B.b

This etching (and its five companions) came about due to the initiative of an association of American bibliophiles, the Limited Editions Club, in New York. The association asked Picasso to illustrate Aristophanes’ famous comedy, Lysistrata, a new translation of which had just been completed by Gilbert Seldes. Picasso had known Seldes since the 1920’s. The choice of Picasso as illustrator was certainly influenced by the publication of Ovid’s Métamorphoses in 1931.  Indeed, in both Lysistrata and Métamorphoses the same classical style is found, characterized by purity of line and balance of composition.   

The comedy, Lysistrata, was written in 411 B.C., when war between Athens and Sparta had already been raging for 20 years. Lysistrata, weary of battles in which husbands and sons were slain, incited the Athenian women to leave their conjugal beds until their husbands were ready for peace.  Picasso apparently knew the play perfectly, although he could not have read the English version he had been commissioned to illustrate. His six etchings for the book follow the text very closely. However, Picasso took the liberty of choosing the scenes which suited him the best.