Changes from version 1: composition transferred to new plate, in drypoint. Changes from version 2, state III, by burnishing: cat's whiskers refined.
In the 1950s, when Bourgeois was living with her husband and children in an apartment on 18th Street in New York City, the family had two cats: Champfleurette and Tyger.
According to Marie-Laure Bernadac, "The name of the cat is a feminisation of the French writer and art critic Jules Champfleury (1821-89)." (Quote cited in Morris, Frances and Marie-Laure Bernadac. "Louise Bourgeois." London: Tate Modern, 2007, p. 40.)
Champfleury authored "Les Chats," a book of essays on cats with illustrations by multiple artists, including Manet and Delacroix. (Champfleury, Jules and J. Rothschild, editor. "Les Chats." Paris: Librairie de la Société botanique de France, 1870.)
Commenting on the second version, Bourgeois said: "This is a subject which is recurrent. There is a kind of disassociation between what the girl thinks... that is, what she wishes... and what she appears to be. What she wishes is to be a goody-goody... but the document reveals that her deeper mind is on something completely different! What you are and what you are not are intertwined. But don't worry about her... even if there are several facets of herself... she is still whole... she can handle that without breaking. She accepts herself... she doesn't know that she is ridiculous. This implies a very strong will... when someone is subject to terrific pulls in many directions but does not break. It is an ideal portrait... it is an ambition. The charm items are the hair and the high heels... and also, her nails are done! The face is goody-goody... the eyes are lowered... the paws are very relaxed... she is comfortable. You can tell she is pleased with herself. She wants to impress. She is the same as the 'Bosom Lady' [see Related Works in the Catalogue below]. There is a matter of ransom here. The ransom of being so happy is that you look ridiculous... the saving grace is that you don't know it!" (Quotes cited in Wye, Deborah and Carol Smith. "The Prints of Louise Bourgeois." New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 232.)
In 1993, at the initiation of the printers at Harlan & Weaver, New York, Bourgeois rendered version 1 in lift ground aquatint based on the 1983 source drawing. The artist eventually abandoned the aquatint plate and began developing a second version in the drypoint technique. Bourgeois continued to work on version 2 into 1994, when she created an additional source drawing, a photocopy study, and a tracing study, to aid in further development of the composition. The tracing study shows Bourgeois considering placing a figure in the window at the right of the later states of version 2. The final state of version 2, in drypoint, etching, and aquatint, was published by Peter Blum Edition in 1994.
It is conceivable that there were once more states of version 2 than are seen in the Evolving Composition Diagram below. This is based on printer's inscriptions that read "state 5" on two known impressions of the same state (see version 2, state III of IV). However, the existing impressions do not exhibit print state changes that support this inscription, and no known examples of other states exist. The progression of this composition was thus determined by what is found on the existing prints, and the printer's inscriptions were disregarded.
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