An Introduction to Picasso’s ‘Suite Vollard’

 In Art & Gallery News, Artists & Special Collections, Exhibits, Pablo Picasso, Video

Pablo Picasso’s “Vollard Suite” is one of the artist’s true masterpieces—a brilliant collection of 100 etchings created in the artist’s prime.

This video, hosted by British Museum exhibition curator Stephen Coppel, gives an excellent introduction to the “Suite Vollard.”

Picasso’s relationship with famed French art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard first began when the artist was only twenty one years old.

Picasso had traveled to Paris in 1900, when he was twenty, where he struggled to find an audience for his art. According to legend, a destitute Picasso and his roommate, journalist and poet Max Jacob, often burned Picasso’s artwork, just to stay warm at night.

After briefly returning to his home in Madrid, Picasso came back to Paris in 1901, where he had his first fateful meeting with Vollard.

"Portrait de Vollard II" (1937). Etching from Picasso's Vollard Suite.

“Portrait de Vollard II” (1937). Etching from Picasso’s Vollard Suite.

Vollard had been an early champion of Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and many other legendary artists, so it was a significant achievement for Picasso when Vollard agreed to host an exhibition of his work that July.

Although the exhibition was not considered a success, for the next decade, Vollard was a consistent supporter of Picasso’s artwork, regularly purchasing his paintings and displaying special affection for the artist’s Blue and Rose periods.

However, as Picasso’s work became more experimental and avant-garde, Vollard’s interest in the artist’s output waned, showing particular dislike for Picasso’s Cubist period. He did continue to purchase the occasional etching from Picasso, buying at least 30 different etchings from the artist between 1913 and 1927.

"Garcon et Dormeuse a la Chandelle" (1934). Etching from Picasso's Vollard Suite.

“Garcon et Dormeuse a la Chandelle” (1934). Etching from Picasso’s Vollard Suite.

In 1931, two popular books by Honoré de Balzac and Ovid were published featuring etchings from Picasso.

This acclaim ignited Picasso’s interest in etching and caught the attention of Vollard, who saw an opportunity for his art publishing business and ordered 100 plates from Picasso.

"Minotaure Aveugle Guide Par une Fillette, I" (1934). Etching from Picasso's Vollard Suite.

“Minotaure Aveugle Guide Par une Fillette, I” (1934). Etching from Picasso’s Vollard Suite.

This inspired the creation of what’s become known as the Suite Vollard. Picasso did not deliver the final plates to Vollard until 1937. The suite is made up of 97 works—reflecting images of love, artists at work, and the Minotaur—and 3 portraits of Vollard himself.

Tragically, Vollard died in a car accident two years later in 1939, before the plates could be printed, and, as a result, the first series of the Suite Vollard was not offered for sale until the 1950s.


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To collect etchings from the Vollard Suite or other works of art from Picasso, contact our gallery consultants at (800) 521-9654 ext. 4 during business hours or at


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If you’re interested in Picasso, The Park West Museum, just outside of Detroit, has extensive galleries devoted to the works of Picasso, including one of the largest collections of Picasso ceramics on display anywhere in the world.

There are several works from the Vollard Suite prominently featured in the galleries.

The Vollard Suite gallery at Park West Museum.

The Vollard Suite gallery at Park West Museum.

Park West Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery and museum are located at 29469 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, Michigan 48034.


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