Mourlot Studios was founded in Paris in 1852 by François Mourlot. Also known as Imprimerie Mourlot, Mourlot Freres and Atelier Mourlot, the printing shop began by producing wallpaper and then expanded into the production of labels for chocolate companies, as well as maps and stationery. The Mourlot family print shop was taken over by Fernand Mourlot in the early 1920s who converted one of their locations into a studio dedicated to fine art lithography printing. Under Fernand, The Mourlot studio on Rue Chabrol was a hub of artistic activity, producing lithographs by Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Miró, Braque, Léger, Giacometti and other artists who came to work directly on the lithographic stones. Mourlot regarded the lithograph as a painter’s medium and encouraged artists to treat it as such. The resurgence of interest in lithography offered a new way for artists to express themselves, as well as a new avenue of commercial viability for their work. The relationship Mourlot created between the printer and the artist in a collaborative context was groundbreaking.
In 1937, the studio produced posters for Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse to advertise the Maitres de l’Art Indepéndent exhibition at the Petit Palais. The posters were so well-received that the Mourlot studio became the most sought-after studio for lithographic printing in Paris. Pablo Picasso worked at Mourlot for months at a time between 1945 and 1969, creating over four hundred lithographs in editions as well as many lithographic posters. The studio also collaborated with the editor Tériade who founded the art review Verve. Mourlot worked with Matisse, Bonnard, Rouault and Miró to create lithographs for the publication.
Left to Right: Lot 55, Pablo Picasso, Picasso-Ceramics Exhibition, 1958; Estimate $800 - $1,000 / Lot 69, George Braque, Braque Graveur, 1963; Estimate $300 - $500 / Lot 6, Le Corbusier Poster, Oeuvre Plastique, Estimate $200 - $400
Fernand’s son, Jacques, spent his childhood in the printing studio alongside his father learning the lithographic process and participating in the creativity the studio fostered. In 1966, Jacques was asked to open a studio in New York City. His printing shop on Bank Street introduced American artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Ellsworth Kelly and Lee Krasner to new approaches to lithographic printing and the creative possibilities available. Jacque’s son, Eric, grew up at his father’s side as well, learning the printing process in Paris while working with Marc Chagall, Alexander Calder, and Joan Miró on late-career projects. Eric continues the family business in New York City today where Mourlot Editions is the legacy of his great-grandfather’s printing shop and continues to support the important relationship between artist and printer through lithography.
Stair will be offering over fifty posters printed by Mourlot in The Poster Sale on September 28th. Included in this sale are posters by Picasso, Miró, Braque, Dufy, Bonnard and others, as well as many French gallery exhibition posters printed by Mourlot.
Lot 9, Henri Matisse Poster, 1952; Estimate $300 - $400 / Lot 60, After Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, La Goulue-Moulin Rouge, 1957; Estimate $300 - $500 / Lot 97, Three Pierre Bonnard Posters, 1955-1957; Estimate $400 - $600
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