Lithography

Home

II. History

Source: Oxford University Press

1. Invention and incunabula, before c 1818.

(i) German-speaking states

Senefelder’s first publication from relief-etched stone was 12 Neue Lieder für’s Klavier (Munich, 1796) by his friend Franz Gleissner (1760–c. 1820). The title-page of the same composer’s Eine Symphonie von vier obligaten Stimmen (Munich, 1799) pioneered true lithography, but in the ‘engraved manner’. By then capable of pictorial motifs, the inventor had sufficient business at his Munich press to employ his brothers, Georg Senefelder (1778–1827) and Theobald Senefelder (1777–1846), plus two apprentices. André paid Alois Senefelder 2000 florins for rights to exploit the process and to help to convert his own business to ‘chemical printing’. On 10 August 1801 he paid a further 3000 florins for British patents, but a quarrel ended the partnership a day later.

Thereafter, André promoted lithography without Senefelder’s help. André’s cousin, François Johannot of Offenbach, produced a chalk landscape for Matthias Koch as early as 1802 and in 1803 gave assistance to Christoph Wilhelm Reuter of Berlin. In the next few years Reuter, who made some 130 lithographs himself, encouraged Johann Gottfried Schadow, Carl Friedrich Hampe (1772–1848) and Johann Gottfried Niedlich (1766–1837) to contribute to Polyautographische Zeichnungen vorzüglicher Berliner Künstler (Berlin, 1804–8). The first German masterpiece, however, was Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s pen lithograph of a Gothic Church behind an Oak Grove (1810).

From 1801 to 1806 Senefelder printed music in Vienna and explored lithography’s potential on calico, but his business capital and acumen did not equal his inventiveness. In October 1806 he set up his second Munich press with Baron Christoph von Aretin (1773–1824). He printed music, maps and, in 1808, a facsimile edition of Dürer’s drawings in the Book of Hours of the Emperor Maximilian I (Munich, Bayer. Staatsbib.) and 24 specimens entitled Musterbuch über alle lithographischen Kunstmanieren. Despite Senefelder’s ‘exclusive rights’, several other Bavarian presses were operating. From 1804 Mitterer produced figures and plants as teaching aids at the Feiertagsschule für Künstler und Techniker in Munich, followed by Lithographische Kunstprodukte, which appeared from October 1805 to December 1807 in 26 monthly parts, totalling 156 lithographs by local artists, including Max Wagenbauer (1774–1829) and Simon Petrus Klotz. In October 1809 Senefelder became an inspector at a Munich press engaged in land survey for tax assessment; this sinecure allowed him time to refine his discovery and to complete the treatise he published in 1818. His own press passed to Johann Christian von Mannlich in 1810. As court painter and director of the imperial museums, von Mannlich initiated two publications reproducing 600 paintings in tinted (two-tone) lithography by Johann Nepomuk Strixner, Ferdinand Piloty (1786–1844) and others.

(ii) Britain

Senefelder was in London from late 1800 to mid-1801, helping André’s brother Philipp to establish the first press outside the German-speaking states. He gave Philipp André instruction and helped the Swiss artist Konrad Gessner to produce some of the earliest artists’ lithographs . Felix H. Man recorded that by 1810, 165 lithographs had been produced in England.

The process was regarded as a way of multiplying drawings, and André published 12 Specimens of Polyautography on 30 April 1803. Works in pen were made by Benjamin West, President of the Royal Academy, and by Royal Academicians James Barry, Henry Fuseli and Thomas Stothard. In 1803 André also printed Twelve Views of Scotland Delineated by a Lady, technically precocious but aesthetically timid chalk drawings by Miss F. Waring ( fl 1802–26). From 1806 G. J. Vollweiler of Offenbach completed 36 Specimens of Polyautography as a series. Discouraged by poor sales, he returned to Germany in August 1807, after printing William Blake’s pen drawing and frescoes in a Stratford-upon-Avon chapel recorded by the antiquary Thomas Fisher (1782–1836) of Hoxton.

Under licence from Vollweiler, the Quarter-Master-General’s Office produced circulars and maps with the help of the English press’s former assistant, D. J. Redman. In 1812 or 1813 Redman opened the first independent lithographic workshop in Bath. His principal client was Thomas Barker, who in 1813 drew Forty Lithographic Impressions of Rustic Figures and in 1814 the remarkable Thirty-two Lithographic Impressions from Pen Drawings of Landscape Scenery. But Redman was technically limited; lithography was to progress only when, in 1819, Rudolph Ackermann published Senefelder’s treatise in English, and the artist–printer Charles Joseph Hullmandel set up his own press.

(iii) France

Peter Friedrich [Frédéric] André was granted a brevet d’importation on 11 February 1802, but inexperience and the Napoleonic Wars hindered his development. He sold licences to other printers and produced music at Charenton until c. May 1804; then he worked until early 1806 in the Rue Saint-Sébastien, Paris. After a hiatus in 1807, he opened a third press in the Rue du Pont-aux-Choux, which he abandoned in 1809. Several early French music covers were embellished by Pierre-Nolasque Bergeret, whose 1804 vignette of Mercury advertising André’s ‘imprimerie lithographique’ was once wrongly thought to be the earliest lithograph made in France. In fact, Bergeret began reproducing paintings in the Louvre for an English publisher in 1803, but, due to renewed hostilities, only a prospectus, and pen lithographs after Rubens and Giulio Romano, were completed. Coterminous with these abortive attempts to establish the process, several influential Frenchmen learnt of it in Munich. Two of Napoleon’s officers and his brother tried it between 1805 and 1807. Baron Dominique Vivant Denon, director general of the imperial museums, became an enthusiast after visiting von Mannlich’s press in 1809. In 1812 and 1814 respectively, Charles-Philibert de Lasteyrie (1759–1849) and Godefroy Engelmann took instruction and became France’s first successful printers.

From late 1815 Lasteyrie produced routine commercial work at the Ministère de l’Intérieur; his second press at 54, Rue du Four, Saint-Germain, Paris, published prints, illustration and caricature by Carle and Horace Vernet, Jean-Baptiste Isabey, Baron Antoine-Jean Gros and Vivant Denon. Engelmann experimented with the process from 1813 after reading Das Geheimniss des Steindrucks (Tübingen, 1810) by Heinrich Rapp (1761–1832). Engelmann’s first press was in Mulhouse, his second opened at 18, Rue Cassette, Paris, on 15 June 1816. On 3 August he sent prints to the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts, which appointed a commission to study lithography; 23 days later he deposited Le Chien de l’aveugle by Pierre-Antoine Mongin (1761–1827) at the dépôt légal (Paris, Bib. N.). France’s supremacy sprang largely from Engelmann’s improvements, and the process came of age on 8 October 1817, when it was subjected to the same regulations as other graphic media.

2. Developments after c 1818.

(i) Commercial

Since its inception, the use of lithography has been primarily commercial—for maps, music, books, picture reproduction and jobbing printing. Naturalists recorded species: the Frenchman Charles-Alexandre Lesueur (1778–1846) made some of America’s earliest lithographs in 1821–2 when he depicted fish in the Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences; Edward Lear’s plates for an important study of parrots date from a decade later. Topography dominated during the 1820s, when newly explored lands and the European ‘Grand Tour’ were recorded. Baron Taylor’s Voyages pittoresques et romantiques dans l’ancienne France (Paris, 1820–78), in some 20 volumes, was the most ambitious project. J. D. Harding, who produced several lithographic drawing manuals, pioneered may of Hullmandel’s discoveries, notably lithotint in The Park and the Forest (London, 1841). John Cooke Bourne brought poetry to his lithographic record of Britain’s railways. Intaglio dominated art reproduction, but some French artists lithographed their own paintings or had them professionally reproduced. The process was ideal for facsimiles of drawings, as in Richard James Lane’s Studies of Figures by Gainsborough (London, 1825) and those drawn in the 1860s after Delacroix by A.-E. Robaut (1830–1909). Albert Concanen (1835–86) specialized in music covers, but famous painters also decorated song-sheets.

The caricaturist ‘H. B.’ [John Doyle] drew Political Sketches for 20 years from 1827. Social and political ideas were conveyed through thousands of superb lithographs by Paul Gavarni and Honoré Daumier (for an illustration by the latter), published in Charles Philipon’s Le Charivari, founded in 1832, and other journals. The Swiss Roldolphe Töpffer, father of the comic strip, originated his picture satires on transfer paper. Famous figures were drawn for Vanity Fair by ‘Ape’ [Carlo Pellegrini] from 1865 and by ‘Spy’ [Leslie Ward] from 1873. But whereas ‘H. B.’, Daumier, Gavarni and Töpffer drew their own prints, those for Vanity Fair were reproduced by chromolithographers.

Notable early attempts at colour included two nine-stone lithographs of 1820 by Joseph Lanzedelly (1774–1832) of Vienna, but Engelmann’s Album chromolithographique (Paris and Leipzig, 1837) introduced the standard trichromatic procedure, as well as the terminology for commercial colour. Hullmandel, who, as early as 1835, had colour-printed George Alexander Hoskins’s Travels in Ethiopia (London), produced Picturesque Architecture in Paris, Ghent, Antwerp, Rouen &c (London, 1839) for Thomas Shotter Boys , using sophisticated tint stones. These different approaches mark the separation of art from commerce and the reproductive chromolithographer from the ‘original’ artist. The Great Exhibition (London, 1851) and two Expositions Universelles (Paris, 1867 and 1878) consolidated the chromolithographic era, ushering in popular ‘estampes’ and a flood of cheap ephemera, including labels, calendars, playing and greetings cards, postcards, fans and even ‘diaphanies’ imitating stained glass. But chromolithographers also produced memorable work after designs by others, as in such Victorian books as Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages (London, 1844–9) by H. Noel Humphrey (1810–79), lithographed by Owen Jones; Jones’s own Grammar of Ornament (London, 1856), lithographed by Francis Bedford; and the Industrial Arts of the Nineteenth Century at the Great Exhibition (MDCCCLI) (London, 1851–3) by Matthew Digby Wyatt , for which three lithographers put 160 images by 20 artists on to 1069 stones, entailing 1,300,000 press runs. In North America the reproduction of paintings democratized culture: 60 firms employing 800 people in 1860 had expanded to 700 firms employing 8000 people by 1890 (see Marzio). From 1834 Nathaniel Currier (later partnered by James Merritt Ives) produced over 7000 popular, often hand-coloured, prints. The most important were by the English emigrant Frances Palmer. From 1865 Louis Prang popularized the American wilderness in chromolithographs after paintings by Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt and others. Britain’s Arundel Society, formed in 1848, published nearly 200 chromolithographs of Italian frescoes and paintings; 123 London printers listed in 1852 had grown to 474 by 1893. Commerce and art coincided in the colour posters of Jules Chéret (for illustrations see Chéret, jules ), which were part of the ‘original print’ market by the 1880s. In England between the wars, particularly at the Curwen and Baynard presses, painters were encouraged to emulate the French, with autographic pattern papers, posters for Shell UK Ltd and London Transport, popular prints and King Penguin books. Like Kokoschka in 1908, however, most artists involved in poster-making tended to make designs in other media, which were translated into lithographic posters by their chromistes (or lithographic draughtsmen).

(ii) Fine art.

(a) 1818–89

During the first half of the 19th century the German-speaking states produced such competent portrait lithographers as Franz Krüger of Berlin and Josef Kriehuber (1800–76) of Vienna. But few masterpieces emerged between the reverent landscapes of Salzburg and Berchtesgaden completed by the Nazarene Ferdinand Olivier in 1822 and the six exquisite Experiments on Stone with Brush and Scraper of 1851 by the painter Adolph Menzel, son of a lithographer.

Artists of high calibre gave France a decisive lead by the end of the second decade, because they were able to call on very competent printers. Vernet’s lithograph of c. 1818 shows the shop of his printer, François Delpech, with customers viewing albums while a boy carries off a stone to an artist on his head. There were at least 18 Parisian and 26 provincial French presses by the 1820s (see Twyman, 1970 in general bibliography), including Gaulon in Bordeaux, who in 1825 printed four superb bullfights for the exiled Goya.

Romantic lithographers helped keep the Napoleonic legend alive. The ardent Bonapartists Carle and Horace Vernet depicted everyday army scenes, while Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet, who had made over 1000 prints by the 1850s, dramatized the soldier–hero. By the 1830s, Auguste Raffet was rendering Napoleonic campaigns like epic film sets, with soldiers crossing battlefields in waves. Lithography was also used by the greatest French artists of the era, Théodore Gericault and Eugène Delacroix. When Gericault visited London in 1820 to show the Raft of the Medusa (1819; Paris, Louvre), Hullmandel printed his Various Subjects Drawn from Life and on Stone, 11 of which depicted horses. Gericault continued to draw lithographs of horses until his premature death in 1824, and he inspired James Ward to make his own equestrian suite of lithographs.

The theme of ungovernable animals was taken up by Delacroix, who also brilliantly interpreted literature in lithographs, tackling Macbeth (1825), Faust (1827) and Hamlet (1834–43). The public disapproved of his expressive wildness, however, preferring academic finish, as in the Danaë (1824) by Hyacinthe-Aubrey Lecomte (1797–1858): carefully stippled after Anne-Louis Girodet’s painting (1798; Leipzig, Mus. Bild. Kst.), it sold some 600 copies in only two days. Animals provided subject-matter for lithographs by the sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye and the celebrated female artist Rosa Bonheur. The chaste Venus Anadyomène (1839) was Théodore Chassériau’s lithographic masterpiece. Jean Gigoux and Achille Devéria produced incisive lithographic portraits of celebrated contemporaries, and Devéria made some 3000 works on stone, including accomplished costume studies.

Richard Parkes Bonington and Eugène Isabey worked on Baron Taylor’s Voyages pittoresques; English-born Bonington was renowned for his exquisite lithographic townscapes, while Isabey excelled at moody seascapes and tone poems inspired by the Auvergne. Landscapes anticipating the Barbizon school were drawn on stone by the Petits maîtres Paul Huet and Jules Dupré. Published in L’Artiste in the 1830s, Dupré reappeared in Souvenirs d’artistes (1860–76), a publication reviving earlier masters at a time when lithography, eclipsed by etching, was at a low ebb.

When Alphonse Cadart’s Société des Aquafortistes published intaglio prints in 1862, Cadart also attempted to revitalize lithography, by sending stones to Edouard Manet, Henri Fantin-Latour, Alphonse Legros, Félix Bracquemond and Théodule Ribot. But the printer Lemercier declined to edition them. His protest that Fantin-Latour’s work was ‘detestable, insane, barbaric’ probably caused Cadart to abandon publication. The initiative bore indirect fruit, however: Fantin-Latour drew on stone again a decade later and by 1889 had made 90 imaginative evocations of the Romantic composers Berlioz, Schumann, Brahms and Wagner. Establishing essentials on transfer paper placed over textured surfaces, he later reworked the stone with crayon and scraper. Odilon Redon adopted Fantin-Latour’s method in 1879; in blacks as powerful as his charcoal drawings, he took lithography into the 1890s, with such albums as Dans le rêve (1879), Les Origines (1883), La Nuit (1886) and Le Juré (1887)

Rodolphe Bresdin’s pen lithograph of the Good Samaritan (1861; for illustration see Bresdin, rodolphe) achieved 1000 impressions in all, and in 1873 Lemercier transferred several Bresdin etchings to stone to make the editions easier to print. Transfer paper improved in the 1870s; Corot’s breezy landscapes of 1871 revived the idea of ‘multiplied drawing’ inspiring Camille Pissarro to take up the method three years later, although his proofs were never published. Indeed, lithography was often an experimental, even private, activity. Manet published a caricature, a song-sheet and a book placard in the 1860s, but his other lithographs were not seen (or even processed) until after his death in 1883. The Races , one of five prints so delayed, acclaimed for the modernity of its expressive scribbles, may have been a rough sketch on a handy stone to resolve a related painting. The innovative Balloon for Cadart was only proofed; Manet’s indictment of Napoleon III for abandoning Emperor Maximilian (1832–67) in Mexico was censored, as was the print showing reprisals against Communards (1871) and the political caricature Polichinelle (1874). But his masterly brush drawings (‘autographies’, possibly photomechanically derived) transformed Mallarmé’s translation of The Raven (Paris, 1875) into the first modern artist’s book. Manet also influenced Edgar Degas to generate prints by tracing reduced photos of works in other media. During the late 1870s, with his aborted journal Jour et nuit in mind, Degas worked on transferred monotypes to depict the café concert; proofs survive, but no edition was printed.

Zinc, which was light, cheap, pliable and ideal for large-scale work, was perfected as an alternative to stone in the 1870s; by the 1880s Paris had succumbed to poster mania. In 1886 Henri Beraldi catalogued posters by Chéret in Les Graveurs du XIXe siècle (Paris). The same year Ernest Maindron published his major study, Les Affiches illustrées, and in 1889 organized the first extensive poster exhibition. There were few colour prints apart from posters; those by John-Lewis Brown from 1883 and Théâtre Libre programmes by Adolph Willette and Paul Signac in 1888 are isolated examples. Nevertheless, a lithography revival was under way. In 1881 the dealer Edmond Sagot ( fl 1864–91) became the first to specialize in graphic art. In 1884 the Société des Artistes Lithographes Français, which was pledged ‘to perpetuate the art of lithography’, raised its profile in the Salon. In 1888 J. D. Maillard’s Société de l’Estampe Originale marked a shift to ‘original’ printmaking, publishing two lithographs by Henri-Patrice Dillon (1851–1909) in a somewhat unsuccessful monochrome album. The lithographs van Gogh made in Nuenen in the early 1880s inspired Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard to try Synthetism on zinc; their albums, with unusual washes, were available on demand in 1889 at the Volpini Café during the Exposition Universelle. The same year the Société des Peintres-graveurs staged its first original print exhibition.

(b) The 1890s

The use of colour in lithography in the 1890s was stimulated not only by posters (for Klimt’s colour poster of the First Secession Exhibition of 1898) but also by the Impressionist palette, colour illustration in journals and the Japanese colour woodcuts printed in water-based inks that were shown in depth at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1890. In April of the following year the Société des Artistes Lithographes Français charted lithography’s history with 1000 prints and launched Les Peintres-lithographes, which published 70 prints by 60 artists. Raffet was shown in 1892, Charlet in 1893, followed in 1895 by the centennial exhibition of the invention. These events were nationalistic: the French knew very well that true lithography post-dated 1795, but by jumping the gun they stole a march on the Germans and demonstrated their superiority.

In England the intaglio printer Frederick Goulding (1842–1909) introduced transfer paper to several artists, whose first (and sometimes only) lithographs represented Britain in Paris. The American expatriate James McNeill Whistler, whose exquisite London lithotints were made in the 1870s with the printer T. R. Way (1861–1913), also exhibited with the ‘English school’. Having failed to complete a set of colour prints in Paris in 1892, due to the bankruptcy of the printer Belfond, Whistler resumed monochrome transfers with Way by post. He inspired William Rothenstein’s portraits of 1897, some 50 tender figure studies by Charles Shannon and the dedication of fellow American Joseph Pennell, who became his disciple. When Sickert called Pennell’s transfer lithographs ‘reproductions’ in the Saturday Review in 1896, the artist, backed by Whistler, sued for libel and won.

Lithography’s vitality stemmed from its ability to extend downmarket to popular images and upmarket to rarefied proofs. Posters from the hoardings were printed for collectors on good paper and without letters. Zincographs that had appeared in serials such as L’Escaramouche were also marketed as signed prints. Literary journals, among them La Revue blanche and La Plume, produced posters and albums for their readers, and La Plume ran the Salon des Cent to exhibit them. ‘Original prints’ reached the public as limited editions and as low-priced song-sheets or theatre programmes. In 1893, 60 costly proofs of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Miss Loïe Fuller were iris-inked, dusted with metallic powders and sold in gold-embellished mounts, yet his equally lavish eight-colour Bust of Marcelle Lender (1895) was circulated free to 1200 subscribers of the German journal Pan.

André Mellerio, publisher of L’Estampe et l’affiche, wrote the decade’s most influential book on the subject, La Lithographie originale en couleurs (Paris, 1898). Describing the infrastructure for graphic art, he declared colour lithography ‘the distinctive art form of our time’ and found 40 artists worthy of special mention. Chief among them were Toulouse-Lautrec and four of the Nabis—Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis and Ker-Xavier Roussel. Each produced a justly celebrated suite with up to 12 prints: Toulouse-Lautrec’s Elles (1896) revealed the domestic life of prostitutes; Bonnard’s Quelques aspects de la vie de Paris (1895–9) showed the city from unusual vantage points; Vuillard’s Paysages et intérieurs (1898–9) featured bourgeois settings; and Denis’s Amour (1897–9) recalled his betrothal. Roussel’s poetic landscapes, proofed c. 1899, were sold as single prints. Ambroise Vollard commissioned the Nabis; Elles was published by Gustave Pellet (1859–1919), who in 1897–8 also issued colour suites by Maximilien Luce, Alexandre Lunois (1863–1916) and Signac.

Mellerio also noticed three printers: Henry Stern, who was with Edward Ancourt ( fl 1860s–1890s) before working exclusively for Toulouse-Lautrec; Edouard Dûchatel ( fl 1880s–1930s), famed for subtle work with Eugène Carrière and author of an important treatise; and the remarkable Lemercier chromiste, Auguste Clot (1858–1936), who opened his own workshop c. 1895. As printer to Vollard and Pellet, Clot worked with the most famous artists of the lithography revival. He reproduced Degas’s pastel for Germinal in 1899 and printed final states for three of the artist’s After the bath prints, begun c. 1891. Edvard Munch of Norway worked on 23 stones in Clot’s shop in 1896–7 , as well as the woodcut Moonlight, part of which may have been transferred to stone. While praising Clot’s intelligence, Mellerio, a purist concerned to distinguish ‘original prints’ from chromolithographs, took him to task for helping artists too much. Dûchatel’s treatise made clear, however, that colour washes often needed professional retouching; even for an artist of Toulouse-Lautrec’s distinction, colours were drawn or corrected by his printers. Letters prove that many colour prints were partly (even entirely) drawn by Clot. He added colour to Paul Cézanne’s black keystone for the Large Bathers. Auguste Renoir’s Child with Biscuit, Bather, Children Playing Ball and Pinned Hat were evolved by Clot from pastels, as were Alfred Sisley’s By the River (Geese) and Redon’s Béatrice. Even in André Marty’s L’Estampe originale—a series greatly approved by Mellerio—Signac’s print was from a watercolour copied at Ancourt’s workshop, while Le Jeu by Puvis de Chavannes was a photolithographed drawing.

Nevertheless, Marty’s L’Estampe originale succeeded where Maillard had failed. Between March 1893 and March 1895, 94 prints were issued in quarterly instalments, and of 60 lithographs, almost half were in colour. Advanced tendencies were represented by the British artists already named above, and by Puvis de Chavannes, Signac and fellow Pointillist Luce, Fantin-Latour and Redon, Toulouse-Lautrec and the Nabis, Chéret and Eugène-Samuel Grasset, Gauguin, Carrière, Lunois, Henri-Gabriel Ibels, Henri Rivière, Camille Pissarro, Georges de Feure, Hermann-Paul and Charles-Marie Dulac. Paul and Dulac each made two important lithographic suites.

From December 1894 L’Epreuve, published by Maurice Dumont (1870–99), numbered 79 lithographs among its 120 monochrome prints. Vollard’s group albums—‘an encyclopaedia of colour’—came out in 1896 and 1897, with another intended for 1898 released as 11 separate prints; 52 from a total of 64 prints were lithographs, 44 in colour. Two unrelated portfolios were both called L’Estampe moderne; the first was published from November 1895 to March 1896 by Loys-Henri Delteil, with five sets each of six prints; the other, by Masson and Piazza, came out in 24 monthly parts, each of four prints, from May 1897 to April 1899. Delteil’s series included 17 lithographs; of the later group, 60 were colour lithographs, the rest photolithographs or collotypes after drawings. Most albums were in 100 to 200 copies, but L’Estampe moderne of 1897 was in an edition of 2000. Mellerio described the prints as banal chromolithographs, but several reproductions were superb, and although, in general, the set reflected middle-brow taste, there were fine prints by Henri Evenepoel, Edmond Aman-Jean, Louis John Rhead and Richard Ranft, and four silk panels for subscribers—The Arts by Alphonse Mucha—printed in colour and metallic inks. Such decorative panels, together with estampes murales and prints for schools—notably Winter (1896) and the series Aspects of Nature (1897–9) by Rivière—bridged the size between posters and albums. Lithography also served the vogue for ‘le beau dans l’utile’, being used to print wallpaper, lampshades, fans and stationery designed by artists. Bonnard’s magnificent four-panel screen Nannies Promenade (Molines, 1896) exemplifies this development. The Salon had banned colour in 1891, arguing that prints were essentially ‘an art of black and white’. Ironically, by 1899, when it relented, the colour explosion was very largely over.

(c) 20th century

Colour did not instantly disappear, nor did luxury publication cease at the turn of the century. In Paris in 1902 Vollard published Parallèlement (for illustration see Livre d’artiste) and Daphnis et Chloë, with some 250 prints by Bonnard, and Le Jardin des Supplices, by Clot after Auguste Rodin’s drawings. The same year Rivière’s book 36 vues de la Tour Eiffel (Paris) appeared, with lithographs based on Japanese colour woodcuts (for illustration see Japonisme). In 1903 Fantin-Latour interpreted the Poems of André Chénier (Paris). Lunois reported his travels in superb washes, both in black and white and in lucid colour. Colour survived in posters; in 1907 Denis even drew a colour Nativity, which was printed in 1500 copies for the Gazette des Beaux-Arts. But gradually cheaper monochrome became the norm, for humourists and for those recording the ‘humanity of the streets’, among them Charles-Lucien Léandre, Jean Véber (1864–1928), Adolphe Willette and Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen.

From 1908 Paul Cassirer published ‘stone drawings’ by the Berlin Impressionists Lovis Corinth, Max Slevogt and Max Liebermann. His publishing house, Pan-presse, also supported the Expressionists Ernst Barlach and Oskar Kokoschka, who, like Ludwig Meidner, illustrated literature, including their own writings. Pungent suites by Max Beckmann—Hell (1919) and Berlin Journey (1922)—pictured the post-war collapse of society, as did the savage photolithographs for which George Grosz was often fined. Käthe Kollwitz used her broadside chalk to support humane causes. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff had introduced lithography to the Dresden group Die Brücke in 1906; he, Erich Heckel, Max Pechstein, Ernst Luwig Kirchner and Otto Mueller made some 1500 lithographs. Dispersing their drawings with turpentine washes before applying unconventional ‘etches’, they inked the stone’s edge to emphasize its characteristics. Keystones were reused to add colour, limiting output to monoprints or a few proofs. Even their associate Emil Nolde, whose brush lithos of 1913 and 1926 were professionally printed, permutated one subject in 69 colour variants, further undermining the standard edition. Lithographs comprised two thirds of the Bauhaus albums (1921–4). Paul Klee’s monotype transfers and Kurt Schwitters’s Dada scribbles were autographic, but those by Vasily Kandinsky, Oskar Schlemmer and Willi Baumeister suggested technical drawing. Styles ranging from Cubo-Futurism to Suprematism occurred in some 50 Russian livres d’artiste, drawn from 1912 to 1916 by David and Vladimir Burlyuk, Mikhail Larionov, Natal’ya Goncharova, Ol’ga Rozanova and Kazimir Malevich. In 1923 three remarkable Constructivist suites appeared in Hannover: El Lissitzky’s Victory over the Sun, six impersonal Constructions by László Moholy-Nagy and Schwitters’s collage prints of inked half-tones, rectangles and letters, ‘Merzd by hand on to the stone’.

Inflation had largely killed the German market by 1923, but activity in France survived the 1929 crash. In concentrated bouts of printmaking from 1906 Matisse ranged between arabesques and densely modelled figure studies. Luc-Albert Moreau became a devotee after working for one of Frapier’s two albums (1924–6). The Fauve artist Raoul Dufy made a colour suite of lithographs featuring the sea (1925). Robert Delaunay illustrated Allo! Paris! in 1926. Georges Rouault concluded 60 masterly prints with the lithograph Autumn in 1933; Aristide Maillol illustrated Ovid in 1935. Maurice Utrillo and Maurice de Vlaminck discovered the workshop of Fernand Mourlot (1895–1988): already famed for its museum posters, it dominated lithography after World War II.

Paris was a magnet even before the war, but after 1945 its network of galleries, workshops, publishers such as the Guilde de la Gravure and L’Oeuvre Gravé, and Aimé Maeght’s serial publication Derrière le miroir, surpassed the infrastructure of the 1890s. Print biennials in Ljubljana, Kraków, Bradford, Tokyo and Fredrikstad offered world-wide exposure. Among foreigners who made lithographs in Paris were Karel Appel, Pierre Alechinsky, Corneille and Asger Jorn of Cobra; André Masson, Raoul Ubac, Henri Michaux and Bram van Velde from the Low Countries; Alexander Archipenko, André Lanskoy, Serge Poliakoff and Ossip Zadkine from Russia; Max Ernst, Hans Hartung, Ernst Wilhelm Nay and Paul Wunderlich from Germany; Antoni Clavé, Antonio Saura and Antoni Tàpies from Spain; Afro, Massimo Campigli, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Alberto Magnelli, Marino Marini, Giuseppe Santomaso, Emilio Vedova and Zoran Anton Musič from Italy; John Piper and Graham Sutherland from England; Ralston Crawford, Federico Castellón (1914–71) and Alexander Calder of the USA; Alberto Giacometti and Kurt Seligmann from Switzerland; Wifredo Lam from Cuba; Jean-Paul Riopelle from Canada; Kumi Sugai from Japan; and Zao Wou-Ki from China. Among the French, Jean-Michel Atlan, Roger Bissière, Maurice Estève, Alfred Manessier, Jean Le Moal (b 1909) and Gustave Singier—in some cases influenced by stained glass—revelled in the potential for colour. The book 1c Life (1964) by Walasse Ting (b 1929), containing 62 lithos by 28 European and American artists, was also realized in Paris.

The best-known painters were highly productive: Braque’s masterpiece was Leaves, Colour, Light (1954); Léger celebrated the circus; Miró’s enormous output ranged from his austere Barcelona series (1939) to large and playful pictographs; Chagall used lithography to make some 700 posters, prints and illustrations. In 1958 Dubuffet and his printer Serge Lozingot (b 1935) embarked on the extraordinary Phénomènes—24 albums with 350 poetically titled transfers from such unlikely surfaces as fruit and human skin. But it was Picasso who convinced the world that lithography was a major art form. Mourlot’s proofer, Père Tutin, disliked Picasso’s work so much that he tore up a gift of his famous dove. Yet from 1945 the old craftsman faithfully processed tusche-covered collages, Rorschach blots, gouache drawings over grease and incredible mutations in up to 30 states of such lithographs as The Bull, Two Nude Women, David and Bathsheba and Armchair Woman.

England’s Senefelder Club, formed in 1908 by Joseph Pennell, F. E. Jackson (1872–1945), Archibald Standish Hartrick (1864–1950) and others, had toured 45 shows by 1914. Christopher Nevinson and Paul Nash memorably recorded the war, while David Bomberg’s abstract colour booklet Russian Ballet (London, 1919) and Robert Bevan’s studies of horses were landmarks in 1919–20. But English prints tended to be programmatic: Contemporary Lithographs (1937–8) and School Prints (1946–51) were aimed at children; the left-wing Artists’ International Association produced 52 Everyman Prints by 1940, and 18 1951 Lithographs for the Festival of Britain; Edwin La Dell (1914–70) organized the Coronation series at the Royal College of Art in 1953. Lithographs for Lyons’s tea-rooms were made in 1955, and for the Guinness Book of Records in 1957. In 1958 Curwen opened a studio on French lines, run by the artist Stanley Jones (b 1933). Paris-trained, he pioneered continuous tone work from 1960, printing for Piper, Robert MacBryde, Robert Colquhoun, Ceri Richards, Alan Davie, Allen Jones, Reg Butler, William Scott, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, as well as two of the eight Europäische Graphik portfolios (1963–72), edited by the lithographic historian Felix H. Man.

In New York during World War I George Miller (1894–1965) was persuaded to print for artists by Albert Sterner (1863–1946), whose own work inspired the artist Bolton Brown (1865–1936) to study litho in London. Brown later printed for himself and others, notably George Bellows. In the post-war period the Modernists Adolf Dehn (1895–1968), Stuart Davis, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Louis Lozowick (1892–1973) and Benton Spruance (1904–67) worked in Europe. At home the Realists campaigned for social change, emulating the Mexicans Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Grant Wood, John Steuart Curry, Thomas Hart Benton and Raphael Soyer (b 1899) were among many artists making $5 populist prints for the American Artists’ Association. Jean Charlot’s autographic colour Picture Book (Los Angeles, 1933), printed by offset, encouraged Lynton Kistler (1897–1993), its Los Angeles printer, to open an artists’ workshop, which also offered stone. Charlot continued offset work in New York with Albert Carman (1899–1949), who, in 1937 as an independent printer, produced a 50¢ album of 30 prints for the American Abstract Artists; he also colour-printed Chagall’s wartime illustrations for The Arabian Nights (New York, 1945).

Black artist Robert Blackburn (b 1920) learnt lithography on Harlem’s Federal Art Project (FAP); helped by Will Barnet (b 1911), he opened a New York access workshop in 1949. Margaret Lowengrund (1902–57), first to use colour at New York FAP (1936–43), promoted lithography through her gallery–workshop, The Contemporaries, from 1952. FAP supervisor Gustave von Groschwitz (1906–91) ran five colour biennials in Cincinnati (1950–58). Proselytizing for ‘original prints’ from 1956, the Print Council of America (PCA) toured two exhibitions called American Prints Today in 1958 and 1962; only 13 prints shown in 1962 were lithographs, but Coat Hanger by Jasper Johns and Skies of Venice by Adja Yunkers heralded radical change. The print by Johns was published by Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE), founded c. 1957 by Maurice Grosman (1900–76) and Tatyana Grosman (1904–82). Blackburn helped the Grosmans to introduce lithography to members of the US avant-garde, among them Robert Rauschenberg, whose lithograph Accident (1963), printed from a broken stone, took Ljubljana’s grand prize before Venice recognized his painting.

Yunkers’s superb washes came from the Tamarind Lithography Workshop; an initiative of the artist June Wayne, it transformed the ecology for printmaking. When Kistler gave up stone in 1958, Wayne, who had worked with him for a decade, travelled to Paris for a printer. Afraid stone was dying out, she persuaded the Ford Foundation to grant £2 million to resuscitate it, by opening a workshop where artists of varied aesthetics could collaborate with printers. Wayne ran Tamarind in Los Angeles from 1960 until 1970, when her early associate, the artist Clinton Adams, continued it as the self-supporting Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Tamarind set ethical documentation standards and ended trade secrecy, sharing extensive research through the Tamarind Book of Lithography (New York, 1971), written by Adams and Garo Antreasian (b 1922), the shop’s first master printer. By 1984 Tamarind had worked with over 480 artists and trained 120 printers; in that year, a journal listed 164 artists’ workshops across 25 American states.

Among Tamarind artists toured in 1985 were Josef Albers, Judy Chicago, José Luis Cuevas, Richard Diebenkorn, Sam Francis, Philip Guston, George McNeil (b 1908), George Miyasaki (b 1935), Louise Nevelson, Nathan Oliveira (b 1928), Philip Pearlstein, Rufino Tamayo and Emerson Woelffer (b 1914). Many Tamarind printers became publishers. In New York from 1964 Irwin Hollander (b 1927) published artists from Willem de Kooning to Shikō Munakata. In 1966 Kenneth E. Tyler (b 1931) launched Gemini GEL in Los Angeles with Albers’s White Line Squares; within three years Gemini had published Frank Stella’s Stars of Persia (1967), Roy Lichtenstein’s Cathedrals (1969), Rauschenberg’s 2.25 m Sky Garden (1969) from the Stoned Moon Series celebrating the moon landing and Johns’s Colour Numerals (1967), one of which sold for £250,000 in 1989. Jean Milant (b 1943) opened Cirrus Editions in 1970, focusing on the Californians Ed Ruscha, Joe Goode (b 1937), Kenneth Price (b 1935) and Ed Moses (b 1926). Christo, Nancy Graves (d 1995), Sol LeWitt and William Wiley (b 1937) worked at Chicago’s Landfall Press, begun in 1971 by Jack Lemon (b 1936). In 1975 the first Tamarind-trained woman, Judith Solodkin (b 1945), opened Solo Press in New York, where she worked with Howard Hodgkin, Robert Kushner (b 1949), Françoise Gilot (b 1921) and Joyce Kozloff. Maurice Sanchez (b 1945) started Derrière l’Etoile in New York in 1978 after printing James Rosenquist’s 7.5 m F.111 for London’s Petersburg Press. Tamarind skills also spread through education: for example, in the 1970s Paul Clinton (b 1942), Charles Ringness (b 1946) and Julio Juristo (b 1927) printed superb suites for Jim Dine, Rosenquist and Arakawa at GraphicStudio, the research institute at the University of South Florida, Tampa, established by Donald Saff (b 1937).

Offset lithography, even photo-offset, gradually infiltrated art. A pioneer of the 1950s, Eugene Feldman (1921–75) of Philadelphia, played with his commercial press after a day’s work. At London’s Royal College 24 artists legitimated the process in the series Wapping to Windsor (1960); by 1968 Life Class by Allen Jones and the Critic Laughs by Richard Hamilton were wittily contrasting hand and camera. Offset also served Photorealist or conceptual artists as diverse as Richard Long, Joseph Beuys, Hanne Darboven, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Dieter Roth, John Clem Clarke (b 1937) and John Salt (b 1937) and proved ideal for inexpensive artists’ books, typified by Ruscha’s 26 Gasoline Stations (1962). But it was Johns’s Decoy (1971) for ULAE and Stella’s mutilcoloured mazes (1972–3) for London’s Petersburg Press that eventually confirmed offset’s respectability and overcame the PCA’s post-war resistance.

Another tendency of the 1970s was the multimedia print, which combined lithography with other processes, including custom-made paper. Tyler, who left Los Angeles to found a New York workshop in 1973, played a central role in this development. Honouring him at Tamarind’s 30th birthday in 1990, Adams noted that the Lithography Workshop in 1960 had been closer to the world of Brown and Bellows than to the Welcome to the Water Planet series that Tyler had just completed for Rosenquist, combining lithographic collage with coloured paperworks ‘of unimagined scale and complexity’. But although such multimedia works and 48-colour offset prints by David Hockney may characterize Tyler’s recent output, traditional lithography has also survived. The first print Robert Motherwell drew at Tyler Graphics in 1974—a print the artist entitled The Stoneness of the Stone —featured two dramatic wash gestures on a sheet exactly the size and colour of the surface on which they were drawn.

Pat Gilmour

From Grove Art Online

Related Terms

Related Artists

Related Works