Pablo Picasso - Evening & Day Editions London Thursday, September 21, 2023 | Phillips
  • Following the end of the Second World War and the liberation of Paris from Nazi control, Pablo Picasso turned his creative attention to the medium of lithography. The artist spent much of his time at the atelier of master-printer Fernand Mourlot in the Gare de l’Est area of Paris. Picasso’s renewed interest in this printing technique coincided with a new love interest: the 21-year-old artist Françoise Gilot. The pair met in 1943, moved in together in 1946, and had two children over their decade-long relationship, which ended in 1953 due to Picasso’s serial infidelities. Yet, in the immediate post-war years, Gilot represented a renaissance for Picasso, with her presence symbolising the exciting promise of a new beginning in his life and art. Unsurprisingly then, when Picasso embarked on a spate of over 400 lithographs in Mourlot’s studio, it was Françoise Gilot’s likeness that frequently appeared in the images he produced.

    “He looked, he listened, he did the opposite of what he had learnt - and it worked”
    —Fernand Mourlot on Picasso's knowledge of lithography

    Buste de jeune femme was executed in 1949 and is a remarkable example of Picasso’s involvement with lithography. Picasso drew directly on the lithographic stones at Mourlot’s studio, using brushes, crayons and his hands to experiment with mark-making and create rich tonal variations. In the present lot, the artist’s lover stares directly out at the viewer, appearing youthful yet strong and almost quasi-statuesque in her composure. The marks of the lithographic crayons and brushes are evident, creating an abundance of texture and alluding to the artistic process behind this graphic technique. Picasso relished the freedom offered to him by the lithographic medium, as he was able to easily rework an image, much like he would a painting. Due to the continuous nature of this process, many of the lithographs Picasso made at this time have multiple states. Buste de jeune femme has two states, of which the present lot is the second. This piece is emblematic of the artist’s mastery and manipulation of the lithographic technique. Furthermore, it showcases Picasso’s prodigious collaboration with Mourlot and his sustained meditation of his lover, the artist Françoise Gilot.


    • Provenance

      Waddington Graphics Limited, London
      Private Collection, Toronto, purchased from the above in 1986

    • Literature

      Fernand Mourlot 158
      Felix Reuße 465

    • Artist Biography

      Pablo Picasso

      Spanish • 1881 - 1973

      One of the most dominant and influential artists of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso was a master of endless reinvention. While significantly contributing to the movements of Surrealism, Neoclassicism and Expressionism, he is best known for pioneering the groundbreaking movement of Cubism alongside fellow artist Georges Braque in the 1910s. In his practice, he drew on African and Iberian visual culture as well as the developments in the fast-changing world around him.

      Throughout his long and prolific career, the Spanish-born artist consistently pushed the boundaries of art to new extremes. Picasso's oeuvre is famously characterized by a radical diversity of styles, ranging from his early forays in Cubism to his Classical Period and his later more gestural expressionist work, and a diverse array of media including printmaking, drawing, ceramics and sculpture as well as theater sets and costumes designs. 

      View More Works


Buste de jeune femme (Bust of a Young Woman) (M. 158, R. 465)

Lithograph, on Arches paper, the full sheet.
S. 25 3/4 x 19 1/2 in. (65.4 x 49.5 cm)
A rare proof signed by Fernand Mourlot, annotated '2e état' and numbered 3/6 in pencil on the reverse, Mourlot's 2nd (final) state (there was no published edition), framed.

Full Cataloguing

£20,000 - 30,000 ‡♠

Sold for £30,480

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 21 - 22 September 2023