Mourlot Studios  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Mourlot Studios was a commercial print shop founded in 1852 by the Mourlot family and located in Paris, France. It was also known as Imprimerie Mourlot, Mourlot Freres and Atelier Mourlot. Founded by Francois Mourlot, it started off producing wallpaper. Later, his son Jules Mourlot would expand the business to handle the production of chocolate labels for companies such as Chocolat Poulain, as well as ledgers, maps and stationary. Starting in the 1920s, Jules' son, Fernand Mourlot, converted one of the locations into a studio dedicated to printing fine art lithography.


One of the most important contribution of the Mourlot Studio was to be the art poster. For the Eugène Delacroix exhibition in 1930, the Daumier exhibition and the Manet exhibition at the French National Museums, Mourlot became the place where posters were prepared and produced as works of art in their own right.

Another important feature would be the production of fine art, limited edition lithographs. The first painters to create lithographs at Mourlot were Vlaminck and Utrillo. But, lithography, which had enjoyed much popularity in the 19th century, had been abandoned by most artists in the first part of the 20th century.

Lithography, which was invented by Aloys Senefelder at the end of the 18th century, reached fame when it was adopted by artists such as Jules Cheret, Toulouse Lautrec, Bonnard and Vuillard in the 1880s. Beginning in the 1930s, Fernand Mourlot was inviting a new generation of artists to work directly on the stone, as one does when creating a poster.

In 1937 the studio created two posters, one by Bonnard and one by Henri Matisse, for the Maitres de l'Art indépendant exhibition at the Petit Palais. Both were found to be of such excellent quality by the artists themselves that they established Mourlot as the leading lithographic printers. In 1937 the studio also began a long collaboration with the editor Tériade, who founded the legendary art review Verve. After the Second World War, Mourlot assisted Matisse, Braque, Bonnard,Rouault and Joan Miró in the creation of important lithographs for the review.

In 1945, Pablo Picasso elected the Mourlot studio for his return to the lithographic medium. Set up in a corner of the shop, it would soon become his home for several months at a time. Between 1945 and 1969, Picasso created over four hundred lithographs at Mourlot. This collaboration would break new ground in the lithographic process and lend a new dimension to Picasso's work.

Over the years, other great masters of the 20th century would join the list of those who created original lithographs at Mourlot. A very small list includes:

Further reading

  • Souvenirs et portraits d'artistes, Fernand Mourlot Alain Mazo, Paris et Léon Amiel, New-York, éditeurs (1972)
  • Gravés dans ma mémoire, Fernand Mourlot, Edition Robert Laffont, Paris 1979
  • A même la pierre, Fernand Mourlot Lithographe, Text by Castor Seibel, Pierre Bordas & Fils, Paris 1982
  • Twentieth Century Posters, Fernand Mourlot, Wellfleet Press, Secaucus, NJ 1989

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