Fernand Mourlot, lithographe

Le Taureau de Picasso

... "The printing process took fifteen days. On December 5th 1945, one month after his first visit to the rue Chabrol studio, Picasso made a wash drawing of a bull. A wonderful bull, very well rendered, sweet, even. Then we printed the proofs - only two or three, making this first state of the bull an extremely rare. One week later he returned and asked for a fresh stone; he made another wash drawing and quill drawing; then he started again on the 18th. For the third state he changed technique, scraping down to the stone and drawing over to accentuate the contours; the bull became a terrible creature, with terrifying horns and eyes. Well, that wouldn't do - Picasso took the composition to the fourth state, on December 22, and then a fifth on December 24. Each time he simplified the drawing; it bacame more and more geometric, with zones of flat black....

Pablo Picasso, Les 11 états successifs de la lithographie Le Taureau , 1945.

He then made the sixth and seventh states (December 26th and 28th), and then four more between January 5th and 17th - eleven in all. The taureau was reduced to its essential form, rendered in a few perfectly placed lines which symbolized this poor bull with his pinhead and ridiculous horns like antennae.The workers all regretted seeing such a magnificent bull transformed bit by bit into a sort of insectÉ.

ÉIt was Célestin who finally expressed it: "Picasso ended up where normally he should have started." It's true; but in order to achieve his pure and linear rendering of the bull, he had to pass through all of the intermediary stages. And when you stand before his eleventh bull, it's hard to imagine the work that went into it"...

Fernand Mourlot, Gravés dans ma mémoire, Ed. Robert Laffont, 1979