Spotlight: Explore Master Printmaker Fernand Mourlot’s Historic Collaborations with Matisse, Picasso, and More

Mourlot's efforts are behind many of the core pieces of Hidden Gallery's collection.

Henri Matisse, Nu Bleu VII (1958). Courtesy of Hidden, U.K.

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French printmaker and lithographer Fernand Mourlot (1895–1988) may not be a household name, but throughout his career he was an invaluable collaborator with some of the most famous artists of the 20th century—ranging from Pablo Picasso to Marc Chagall. A lifelong Parisian, Mourlot studied at the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs, and in his early career he was dedicated to the family business, the commercial print shop Imprimerie J. Mourlot, later Mourlot Freres, or “Mourlot Brothers.”

Mourlot was deeply engaged with the creative aspects of the business, making entries into the art world by way of creating lithograph posters for art museums. Illustrated books produced by Mourlot Studios in the 1920s acted as a foundation for later artistic pursuits, and by the 1930s Mourlot was working widely with international museums and galleries in the creation of exhibition posters, becoming the largest producer of its kind.

Through his work, Mourlot made forged lasting friendships with many influential artists, beginning with Henri Matisse and later including Fernand Léger, Georges Braque, and Rouault. The printer had long invited artists to visit and create original work in the studio, and despite holds in projects due to World War II, began working prolifically on artist editions. He met Picasso in 1945, and the artist was so impressed with Mourlot, he dedicated himself to lithography. The first collaborative work between the two was Le Taureau the same year they met, and continued for many years.

The gallery Hidden, with locations in Bristol, Bath, Brighton, and London, has developed and maintained a strong collection of works made by Mourlot with esteemed artists. According to the gallery, “A significant proportion of the artworks within Hidden’s collection originate from Mourlot’s renowned atelier. An artwork conceived at L’Atelier Mourlot boasts exceptional provenance, produced by not only an eminent artist, but also a leading printmaker—both of whom were experts in their craft.

The availability of fine, limited-edition prints was a remarkable development for collectors, allowing for broader accessibility to pieces by artists that would otherwise be unattainable. Specializing in hard-to-find, original prints, Hidden embraces this ethos of accessibility, and their premier collection features works by not only Picasso and Matisse, but a diverse range of seminal 20th-century artists. “Iconic and hand-signed prints by household names such as Picasso, Matisse, Warhol, Hockney and Riley can be found within Hidden’s collection, charting some of the most significant moments in modern and contemporary art. Superlative craftsmanship, as modeled by each print originating from L’Atelier Mourlot, is ubiquitous in every artwork within Hidden’s collection.”

See featured artworks below.

Georges Braque, Galerie Maeght(1951)

Georges Braque, Galerie Maeght (1951). Courtesy of Hidden, U.K.

Pablo Picasso, Grand Maternité(1963)

Pablo Picasso, Grand Maternité (1963). Courtesy of Hidden, U.K.

Pablo Picasso, Grand Maternité (1963). Courtesy of Hidden, U.K.

Jean Cocteau, Nu au Voile (1958)

Jean Cocteau, Nu au Voile (1958). Courtesy of Hidden, U.K.

Jean Cocteau, Nu au Voile (1958). Courtesy of Hidden, U.K.

Pablo Picasso, Tête d’Homme (Hommage à René Char) (1969)

Pablo Picasso, Tête d’Homme (Hommage à René Char) (1969). Courtesy of Hidden, U.K.

Henri Matisse, J’aime Marie (1948)

Marc Chagall, Jerusalem Windows – Candlestick (1962). Courtesy of Hidden, U.K.

Explore more artworks with Hidden here.

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