Pablo Picasso, ‘Faune Souriant (Smiling Faun)’, 1948, Galerie d'Orsay

Picasso was involved in printmaking as early as 1904, although he did not make lithography the focus of his graphic work until the winter of 1945. At this time he went to work alongside the master lithographers at the Atelier Mourlot.

The Mourlot family’s involvement with printing goes back to Francois Mourlot who founded a wallpaper business during the early nineteenth century. After Francois’ death, his son Jules took the workshop in another direction, printing advertising posters. Jules founded the Atelier Mourlot in 1852 and moved the presses to the rue Chabrol in 1914.Upon Jules death in 1921, his two sons, Georges and Fernand inherited the workshop.

By 1945 every major printmaker in Paris was working with Mourlot and his printers.Ä In the case of Picasso, the team beside Fernand Mourlot consisted of three printers, Gaston Tutin and Jean Celestin (“Pere Tutin” and “Tintin”) the proofers, and Henri Deschamps the chromist who was in charge of the inks. They worked with Picasso taking proofs from the stones and zinc plates. When Picasso first began to work with Mourlot, all of the lithographs were drawn on the stone in the traditional manner. By 1947, Picasso realized that he could avoid some of the studio’s restrictions by working on zinc plates which could be easily transported from his studio to the printers.

While working on the stones a system was devised whereby eighteen copies of each successive stage of any image on which Piasso was working would be taken and preserved. Once the move was made to zinc plates this number was reduced to six, five copies for the artist and a sixth for Mourlot himself. Although Mourlot records the five “artist’s reserved proofs“ in his catalogue raisonne, he does not mention the sixth impression. The impression described above is that sixth impression of this particular subject that comes from the personal collection of Fernand Mourlot.

Series: 6/6

Bloch 519; Mourlot 112

ex-collection Fernand Mourlot, Paris, bearing his monogram in pencil verso.

About Pablo Picasso

A prolific and tireless innovator of art forms, Pablo Picasso impacted the course of 20th-century art with unparalleled magnitude. Inspired by African and Iberian art and developments in the world around him, Picasso contributed significantly to a number of artistic movements, notably Cubism, Surrealism, Neoclassicism, and Expressionism. Along with Georges Braque, Picasso is best known for pioneering Cubism in an attempt to reconcile three-dimensional space with the two-dimensional picture plane, once asking, “Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?” Responding to the Spanish Civil War, he painted his most famous work, Guernica (1937), whose violent images of anguished figures rendered in grisaille made it a definitive work of anti-war art. “Painting is not made to decorate apartments,” he said. “It’s an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.” Picasso’s sizable oeuvre includes over 20,000 paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, theater sets, and costume designs.

Spanish, 1881-1973, Malaga, Spain, based in Paris and Mougins, France