The grotesque play Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry (1873-1907), written in 1896, has often been seen as a precursor to surrealism and had a strong influence on the writers and artists of the subsequent generation, including Joan Miró. Jarry's greedy and evil character King Ubu reminded the artist uncannily of the Spanish dictator José Franco. Like Picasso in his two prints Sueño Y Mentira de Franco (see lot 89), Miró uses Ubu’s story to at once ridicule the dictator and to denounce the injustices and brutalities perpetrated by the regime in his native Spain.
Miró created three large series based on the story of Ubu: Ubu roi (1966), Ubu aux Baléares (1971) and L’Enfance d’Ubu (1975); a total of one hundred lithographs, many of which contain only thinly disguised caricatures of Franco. Rather than his signature use of cheerful primary colours, Miró in this series employed an equally vibrant, but somewhat different, slightly poisonous palette, which adds to the sense of the ridiculous and grotesque.