Changes from version 2, state II, in drypoint: segments of boat contours reinforced; “MOTHER” text added.
In 1989, to help Bourgeois prepare for what would be a major project together, "the puritan," Ben Shiff of Osiris, New York, provided her with test plates on which she made various technical experiments.
When discussing the Untitled 1950 source drawing: "This is so personal that I don't think it is interesting to know what lies behind it. There are four boats. They are all attached to each other, and in the upper left they are attached to something that is not visible. You see, I don't think it is interesting to know what it is. It has to do with the black. The blackness shows it is a moral issue, and the moral issue is what? It has to do with responsibility--responsibility and guilt. So it means that my responsibility, in this case, is to keep these four boats afloat: four different people, namely, the big one is the husband and the three small ones are the children."
When discussing the Untitled 1946 ink drawing, seen below in Related Works in Other Mediums: "... I am the little one underneath, and the three others are the three members of the family. The problem is to navigate, to play together--they obviously play together; they have a good time-- so this is the opposite of the drawing of the black boats. This is a happy family [...] The common denominator here is that the little figure at the bottom--which is a self-portrait--has managed to make the three kids happy. In the drawing of the black boarts it is the same subject except that--because of the guilt involved--I have not managed to make them happy. So it is guilt that I had toward my children about not being a good mother. Simple as that." (Quotes cited in Bourgeois, Louise and Lawrence Rinder. "Louise Bourgeois Drawings and Observations." Berkeley: University Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive University of California, Berkeley; Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1995, p. 115.)
The plate was only partially printed for this impression, as the sheet was smaller than the plate. The full plate is seen below in Version 2, state II.
The 1950 source drawing was made on a printed advertisement, mostly obscured by ink.
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