There is an apparent connection between the owl vases mentioned above (page 283) and the large zincograph Owl he made with brush and scraper on March 10, 1948, at Vallauris (the same day on which he made six versions, the same size as the owl, of a music-making faun; page 276). The relationship to the painted vase lies in the similar way the dark drawing spreads on the light ground, and the alternation and connection of linear and spotted elements. But the flat surface of the zinc plate yields a form wholly different from that on the circular, bulging structure of a vase. We can almost feel that the representation in some measure derives from the flattening of a curved surface, thus producing several simultaneous views of the front, side, and rear. The broad brush strokes make detailed modeling unnecessary; yet the numerous convex curves create the illusion of a solid body. The total effect, however, is determined by the decorative filling of the surface: a fluidity achieved by the line-and-spot system. In the same way, using the scraper, he has executed the head—without drawing the beak—by reversing the color relations (white on black).
He applies the same procedure to the human figure in the numerous states of the large lithograph Woman in an Armchair, which were followed immediately in January 1949 by several representations of animals. The zinc etching of January 7 of lobsters and fish, measuring 30 by 42 inches, has the quality of a still life and combines the stylistic characteristics just described with naturalistic details. Moreover, as a result of the difference in the coloring of the ground, chiaroscuro effects appear around the white planes with curvilinear borders whose richness anticipates the paintings to be discussed below. Also in the Toad, painted a few days later (page 424), this mysterious light appears along with the natural ugliness of the animal. The large wash lithograph of the Dove, which was made during these same days, is even more pictorial and naturalistic; the beauty and radiant whiteness of the bird may have been intended to make up for the monsterlike appearance of the toad. The close juxtaposition and interrelation of naturalistic and ornamental treatment exemplified here are not accidental: they are an essential part of Picasso's subsequent works.
Toad page 424 Dove C1. Cat. 209