In 1952-1953, the Swiss publisher, great patron of the art and founder of La Guilde des Livres Albert Mermoud, asked the novelist Blaise Cendrars to collaborate on a book with Fernand Léger for one of his publications. Although Léger created 29 lithographs for the book, upon his death in 1955, the text had not yet been completed. Deeply affected by the death of the artist, Cendrars altered the original theme of the book and made of it an homage to the recently deceased Léger.
The gouache Étude pour 'Le campeur' is a study for the eponymous oil, Le campeur, which originally belonged to Nadia Léger and is now held in the collection of the Fernand Léger Museum in Biot. The present work on paper was offered by the artist himself, in 1955, to Blaise Cendrars, who then gifted it to his friend Albert Mermoud as a souvenir of their collaborations.
Étude pour Le campeur forms part of an important series of paintings and colourful drawings that Léger made on the theme of leisure in the early 1950s. Known as Le campeur, this series bridges the artist's work from the abstract composition of the well-celebrated Plongeurs series completed in the 1940s, to his last major groups of pictures, Les Loisirs, Les Constructeurs and La Grande Parade.