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Galerie Mourlot: The Rebirth of Lithography

Chelcey Berryhill - Friday April 29, 2016 16:22

Royal Oak is thrilled to offer a special reception at Galerie Mourlot, a gallery with a remarkable history dating back to the 19th century. Join us next Friday on May 6 for a private collection tour.

Join the Tour!

Henri Matisse, Maison de la Pensée Française, 1950

Henri Matisse, Maison de la Pensée Française, 1950

In 1852, Francois Mourlot opened Ateliers Mourlot in Paris as a commercial print shop that primarily produced wallpaper. When Francois’s grandson Fernand Mourlot took over the shop in the 1920s, however, he converted it into a studio dedicated to the printing of illustrated books and lithographic posters. Though lithography had more or less gone out of style during the 19th century, Fernand brought it back with a single-mindedness that would change printmaking forever.

Over the next four decades, Fernand brought in the greatest Modernists of his day to produce color lithographs. Lithographs were conceived as announcements for exhibitions, ads for tourism or even illustrations for political events that were posted throughout the streets of Europe, and in windows of shops and cafés.

Fernand Mourlot (left) with Henri Matisse at Ateliers Mourlot, Paris

Fernand Mourlot (left) with Henri Matisse at Ateliers Mourlot, Paris

French painters Maurice de Vlaminck and Maurice Utrillo were among the first to work with Mourlot, though it was not long before the atelier began to reach an even broader crowd including Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Henri Matisse, and Fernand Léger.

Georges Braque, Oiseaux, 1963

Georges Braque, Oiseaux, 1963

Fernand recalled, “Leger was a regular visitor to our printing establishment where he made a great number of lithographs in the form of prints and illustrations.” He then revealed, “Beginning in October 1946, Picasso came to work at the Rue de Chabrol during a period of several months. During this period, he exhausted the possibilities of the process; he both learned and re-invented lithography.” Between 1945 and 1969, Picasso would create nearly four hundred lithographs at the Mourlot studio!

Alexander Calder sitting with Eric Mourlot

Alexander Calder sitting with Eric Mourlot

This incredible legacy is continued today by Fernand’s grandson, Eric Mourlot, who manages Galerie Mourlot on New York’s Upper East Side. The gallery features many of the original lithographs by these 20th-century masters as well as the original lithographic stones used to create the posters and even hand-written letters by artists like Calder and Matisse addressed to Fernand.

The private tour of Galerie Mourlot will be held next Friday evening on May 6. Join the Tour!