Pablo Picasso
April 5, 1949

An original Pablo Picasso Lithograph print.

(Woman in Armchair, No. 2)

April 5, 1949

Original lithograph printed in black ink on wove paper bearing the “ARCHES” watermark.

A superb, extremely rare proof impression of the second and final state of this subject, one of only six impressions reserved for the artist and the publisher (there was no formal edition published). Published and printed by Fernand Mourlot, Paris.

Catalog: Mourlot 135 2nd state (of two); Reusse 415; Güse/Rau 388; Picasso Project 135 State 2 (of two); not in Bloch.

27 x 21 inches

Sheet Size: 30 1/16 x 22 1/8 inches

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 François Mourlot who founded a wallpaper business during the early nineteenth century.  After François’ 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.  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 raisonné, he does not mention the sixth impression.  The sixth impression was printed for the personal collection of Fernand Mourlot himself.