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Over his lifetime, Picasso created various suites of graphic works. The first of these was the group of fourteen etchings called the Saltimbanques, executed in 1904 -1905 and published by Ambroise Vollard in 1913. A second group, dating from 1930-1936, totaled ninety-seven relatively unrelated and separately conceived works, all commissioned by Ambroise Vollard. To these Picasso added three portraits of Vollard. The resulting 100 etchings are now known as the Suite Vollard. Still later, in a period of seven months extending from March through October, 1968, Picasso gave up most of his painterly activities and produced a series of 347 etchings, now called the 347 Series. Between June 1969 and March 1972, Picasso created 156 more etchings now known as the 156 Series. The 156 Series was Picasso’s last major group of prints. The editions consisted of 65 impressions each: 50 numbered 1/50 through 50/50 and 15 numbered I/XV through XV/XV. Each impression from this series was signed with Picasso’s signature stamp.
This work, the thirteenth of the 156 Series, was the most technically complex of the whole series and in fact is one of the most technically complex graphic works created in the history of printmaking. It was worked and reworked by Picasso in nine separate states, over a period of some fifty days from February 11 to March 30, 1970.