BATHSHEBA READS A SUMMONS TO THE ROYAL BED
thorpe art gallery visited Bowmore’s South Brisbane apartment to choose from the works he had nominated as gifts. They found many artworks stacked up in an unused ensuite of his apartment. They selected the Picasso because it was by that artist and also because they felt it was a significant example of lithography for the gallery.
Picasso’s Bathsheba at her Toilet is a vivid print that features Bathsheba reading the letter from David in the comfort of her lush bedroom setting. As she reads, her thoughts and feelings are unclear. The print is signed by the artist in pencil in the lower right margin.
‘‘ The work is significant because Picasso is referring to someone else’s [Rembrandt’s] work so closely yet it is so recognisable as characteristic of Picasso,’’ says Elspeth Cameron, the gallery’s arts librarian. ‘‘ There is much to consider in the way each artist depicts women in his picture.
‘‘ In Rembrandt’s work the women are gentle Europeans, bathed in golden light. Picasso uses human shapes that fill more of the space, stronger colours and decorative patterns. The tents of the desert and the lands of the Middle East are evoked.
‘‘ The black-clothed serving woman has an unfathomable expression on her face. Does she disapprove of the whole affair? The story of Bathsheba and David shifts and changes.’’