This is a book that Pablo Picasso illustrated and Jaime Sabartés wrote. The subject matter is the bullfight. In his text for the book, Sabartés describes the atmosphere of the plaza--the alternating effects of sun and shade, the enthusiasm of the aficionados. The cry "A los toros" evokes an exceptional and indefinable feeling in Sabartés: "He who cries it feels it rising inside of him early on a Sunday morning when a bullfight is going to take place." In writing of the "actors" in the corrida, he devotes most of his attention to the bull and the picador, the "protagonists" who play the principle role in Picasso's suite of 103 wash drawings reproduced in the book. Produced between July 11, 1959 and June 26, 1960, the drawings were shown at Galerie Louise Leiris in December 1960.
To accompany the book, Picasso made four black and white lithographs on March 6, 1961 at Vauvenargues. These depict La Pique (I), Le Picador (II), Jeu de cape (III), and Les bandrilles (IV)--all of which Georgetown Frame Shoppe currently has for sale. The book's publisher, Andre Sauret, asked the printer Fernand Mourlot to suggest to the artist that "he put a little color in these plates," and Mourlot communicated the request to Picasso while on a visit to Vauvenargues on April 21, 1961. Picasso obliged by coloring Le picador with wax crayons from a box of twenty-four. Mourlot recounts proudly how his atelier succeeded in the difficult task of printing all 24 colors--plus black--that the artist used and concludes, "that time, I believe, it was our great friend Picasso who was a little surprised."
The four transfer lithographs were printed on wove paper and published in 1961 in an unsigned and unnumbered edition. An additional fifty impressions of each of the four lithographs were printed; these are signed and numbered from 1/50 to 50/50.