Pablo Picasso
June 18, 1933

An original hand-signed Pablo Picasso drypoint print.

(Minotaur Caressing the Sleeper)

June 18, 1933

Original drypoint printed in black ink on Montval laid paper bearing the “Vollard” watermark

Hand-signed in pencil in the margin lower right Picasso, dated in the plate (in reverse) lower left “Boisgeloup 18 juin XXXIII”.

A superb impression of Geiser/Baer’s second and final state, printed after the steel-facing of the plate, from the edition of 260 printed on Montval paper bearing either the “Picasso” or “Vollard” watermark (there were 50 additional impressions printed on Montval laid paper bearing the “Montgolfier” watermark, and three impression printed on parchment, for an overall edition of 313). Plate 93 (of 100) from the Suite Vollard.  Published by Ambroise Vollard, Paris, 1939; printed by Roger Lacouriere, Paris.

Catalog: Bloch 201; Geiser/Baer 369.II.d.

11 5/8 x 14 3/8 inches

Sheet Size: 13 7/16 x 17 inches

In 1934 Albert Skira and the publisher Efstratios Tériade founded the magazine Minotaure.  Picasso designed the cover of the first issue.  In the Suite Vollard he further developed the subject of the Minotaur, freely interpreting the ancient myth and creating an entirely new mythical world.  For him the Minotaur is the ideal union of man and animal.  He represents him as a tender seducer, he shows him carousing at a party in the sculptor’s studio, as a lecherous creature rushing at a girl, or bending in awkward tenderness over a sleeping woman as in this superb etching.  The Minotaur is also shown defeated by a youth in the arena, and in the next plate is seen expiring from a mortal wound.  The first eleven plates in this cycle from the Suite Vollard were executed between May 17 and June 18, 1933, concluding with “Minotaure Carressant une dormeuse.  In September of the following year Picasso’s imagination was again kindled by the subject of the Minotaure: in four magnificent engravings he represents the tragic figure of the blinded creature, deprived of all his strength by an innocent little girl who in one composition is seen holding a bouquet and in another a dove, the symbol of purity. 
The figure of the Minotaur, a mythological figure with a bull’s head and a human body, plays a central role in the
Suite Vollard.  Roland Penrose notes that the arrival of the Minotaur in Picasso’s imagery coincides with his new interest in sculpture, and further suggests that the nature of the Minotaur, half man, half beast, seemed to correspond in certain ways to Picasso’s vision of himself in the role of the sculptor.  However, Picasso’s identification with the contradictory nature of the creature, portrayed in moments of tenderness and violence, carousing and humiliation, also mirrors the strains experienced in his personal life, which in turn affected his work at the time.  The development of his relationship with Marie-Thérèse Walter, whom he had met in 1927, and the increasing estrangement from his wife, Olga, came to a head in June 1935, when his mistress’ pregnancy could no longer be kept secret and his wife walked out with their son.  The Minotaur’s blindness can be seen then as a metaphor for Picasso’s familial and artistic crisis in 1934-35.