The second volume of Mourlot's documentation of Picasso's graphic work at his workshop (from 1947-1949) was a critical period in his lithographic innovations. After his initial experimentation with stone lithography at the end of 1946 at the Mourlot workshop, Picasso's confidence with and frequent use of printmaking as means of exploration and experimentation is clearly evident during this periods.
His lithography at Mourlot is also a reflection of his life situation and preoccupation at the time, including Francoise Gilot (his partner at the time who he first met in 1943) and their two children Paloma and Claude. In fact his personal relationships with significant women in his life (Olga Kokhlova, Marie-Therese Walter, Dora Mar, Francoise Gilot and Jacqueline Roque) appear so frequently in his art (especially his printmaking) that art historians now divide his art periods according to his significant female partner of the time.
Francoise's image appears regularly in Picasso's lithography during this period. He depicted her with a characteristic circumflex above her right eye brow, which was a notable feature that Henri Matisse saw in Francoise when she visited his studio with Picasso when living in the South of France. A careful study of these seminal lithographs are a tour de force of experimentation and innovation in fine art portraiture that had never been seen before in the history of art and continues to challenge and inspire academics and viewers to this day.
To have high quality images of the unpublished states using the same process of lithography by the same print workshop (as provided by Fernand Mourlot in this volume) gives us important insight into Picasso's thinking and creative process in a step by step fashion. Unlike oil on canvas where it is practically impossible to obtain photographs of the state before changes were made, the printmaking provides this data in a tangible way, that is, the pulled lithographic proof that the artist uses as feedback and inspiration for new ideas and changes and that academics, collectors, curators and we as viewers can also use as a vital record of what was going through the mind of the artist during the very act of creation.
This process is readily apparent in the series in this volume such as, Modern Bust, Bust of Young Woman and perhaps most impressive the Woman with Chair series of a massive 26 images and the David and Bethsheba series of prints, showing every variation imaginable in the modern portrait, makes this volume one of the most important in the history of modern art. Thanks goes not only to Picasso and Francoise but also to Fernand Mourlot for carefully archiving and documenting this unprecedented and history making revival in modern printmaking and art.