University of Delaware Library
COLOR PRINTING: LITHOGRAPHY

COLOR PRINTING IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

LITHOGRAPHY

Lithography was the first fundamentally new printing technology since the invention of relief printing in the fifteenth century. It is a mechanical planographic process in which the printing and non-printing areas of the plate are all at the same level, as opposed to intaglio and relief processes in which the design is cut into the printing block. Lithography is based on the chemical repellence of oil and water. Designs are drawn or painted with greasy ink or crayons on specially prepared limestone. The stone is moistened with water, which the stone accepts in areas not covered by the crayon. An oily ink, applied with a roller, adheres only to the drawing and is repelled by the wet parts of the stone. The print is then made by pressing paper against the inked drawing.

Lithography was invented by Alois Senefelder in Germany in 1798 and, within twenty years, appeared in England and the United States. Almost immediately, attempts were made to print pictures in color. Multiple stones were used, one for each color, and the print went through the press as many times as there were stones. The problem for the printers was keeping the image in register, making sure that the print would be lined up exactly each time it went through the press so that each color would be in the correct position and the overlaying colors would merge correctly.

Early colored lithographs used one or two colors to tint the entire plate and create a watercolor-like tone to the image. This atmospheric effect was primarily used for landscape or topographical illustrations. For more detailed coloration, artists continued to rely on handcoloring over the lithograph. Once tinted lithographs were well established, it was only a small step to extend the range of color by the use of multiple tint blocks printed in succession. Generally, these early chromolithographs were simple prints with flat areas of color, printed side-by-side.

Increasingly ornate designs and dozens of bright, often gaudy, colors characterized chomolithography in the second half of the nineteenth century. Overprinting and the use of silver and gold inks widened the range of color and design. Still a relatively expensive process, chromolithography was used for large-scale folio works and illuminated gift books which often attempted to reproduce the handwork of manuscripts of the Middle Ages. The steam-driven printing press and the wider availability of inexpensive paper stock lowered production costs and made chromolithography more affordable. By the 1880s, the process was widely used for magazines and advertising. At the same time, however, photographic processes were being developed that would replace lithography by the beginning of the twentieth century.


Early Lithographic Processes


Audubon, John James, 1785-1851.
The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America ... and the Revd. John Bachman. [New York]: Published by J.J. Audubon, 1845-1848.

Although he is best known for his study of birds, Audubon also applied his methodology and artistry to create a record of our native mammals. The Quadrupeds, which was a great success on publication, presented many frontier mammals never before seen or depicted. Audubon's son John contributed many of the later drawings; his son Victor drew some of the backgrounds.


Currier & Ives.
Rail Shooting: On the Delaware. New York: Lithographed and published by N. Currier, 1852.

The Trout Stream. Lithographed by Currier & Ives, 1852.

Currier & Ives was the most important lithographic company of the nineteenth century. They produced more than 7000 titles, many in lots of several hundred thousand copies. They charged low prices, maintained dealers in every large American city, and survived longer than almost all of their competitors. Their pictures embody the American popular taste of their era.


Guillet, Peter.
Timber Merchant's Guide. Also, a Table, Whereby, at One View, May Be Seen the Solid and Superficial Measure of Any Square or Unequal Hewed Logs or Plank, from One to Forty-seven Inches... Baltimore: J. Lovegrove, 1823.

The book is important in both the history of ship building and of lithography. It is the second book illustrated with lithography in the United States. The lithographer, Henry Stone, worked first in Washington D.C. and then in Baltimore. One of the earliest American works on the practical construction of ships, The Timber Merchant's Guide explains how best to cut particular ship's timbers out of trees of various configurations.


Harding, James Duffield, 1798-1863.
The Park and the Forest. London: Thomas Maclean, 1841.

Harding used Hullmandel's lithotint process to produce the soft textured look of aquatints. This picture book of British trees in landscape settings has very little text and could be used as a pattern book for amateur artists.


Hill, David Octavius, 1802-1870.
Sketches of Scenery in Perthshire Drawn from Nature and on Stone. Perth, Scotland: T. Hill [1821].

David Hill was a painter, lithographer, and book illustrator who produced this book very early in his career. It was his pioneering work in photography, however, that made him famous. With his partner Robert Adamson, he produced a series of portraits using the calotype photographic process which are considered to be the first fine-art photographs.


Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton, 1817-1911.
The Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya; Being an Account, Botanical and Geographical, of the Rhododendrons Recently Discovered in the Mountains of Eastern Himalaya, from Drawings Made on the Spot... Second edition. London: Reeve, Benham, and Reeve, 1849-51.

This book, which is still a standard work on rhododendrons, contains thirty hand-colored plates, lithographed by Walter Hood Fitch from Hooker's field sketches drawn during his extensive explorations in the Eastern Himalayas.


Hullmandel, Charles Joseph, 1789-1850.
The Art of Drawing on Stone, Giving a Full Explanation of the Various Styles, of the Different Methods to Be Employed to Ensure Success... London: C. Hullmandel [1824].

Hullmandel, an English landscape painter, visited Senefelder in Munich even before Senefelder's book was published in England. He refined the lithographic process, developing a method for producing gradations in tones and creating the effect of a soft wash of color. This allowed for the reproduction of the romantic style of landscape made popular in England by J. M. W. Turner.


Hunter, William S.
Hunter's Ottawa Scenery in the Vicinity of Ottawa City,Canada. Ottawa City: W.S. Hunter, 1855.

These plates were each tinted using a single stone and then hand-colored and heightened with varnish. Although the books were published in Canada, the lithography was done by the J. H. Bufford Company of Boston.


Reigart, John Franklin, 1813-1884.
The United States Album: Embellished with the Arms of Each State and Other Appropriate Engravings, Containing the Autographs of the President and Cabinet, Twenty-eighth Congress, Supreme Court, Ministers, and Other Officers of Government. Lancaster City, Pa.: 1844.

This unusual volume contains both engravings printed in colored ink and lithographs colored by hand.


Ritch, John W., b. 1822.
The American Architect: Comprising Original Designs of Cheap Country and Village Residences, with Details, Specifications, Plans and Directions, and an Estimate of the Cost of Each Design. New York: C. M. Saxton [1852].

The use of a printed tint in these illustrations, seems purely decorative, to better show off the line drawings.


Senefelder, Alois, 1771-1834.
A Complete Course of Lithography: Containing Clear and Explicit Instructions in all the Different Branches and Manners of that Art: Accompanied by Illustrative Specimens of Drawings. London: R. Ackermann, 1819.

Alois Senefelder, the inventor of lithography, described with great clarity his materials and methods in this treatise which was first published in Munich and Vienna in 1818. He discusses the possibilities of full color printing with his process, but the illustrations included in the work only include the use of one-color tints.


Whittock, Nathaniel.
The Decorative Painters' and Glaziers' Guide: Containing the Most Approved Methods of Imitating Oak, Mahogany, Maple, Rose, Cedar, Coral, and Every Other Kind of Fancy Wood ... Third edition. London: Sherwood, Gilbert, and Piper, 1832.

In representing various woods and marbles, the effect of color and polish has been obtained by first painting the lithograph with bright watercolors, and then covering the paint with a solution of gum arabic, used as a varnish. The resulting plates are unnaturally bright, but do give the effect of a shiny surface.


Wirt, Elizabeth Washington Gamble, 1784-1857.
Flora's Dictionary by a Lady. Baltimore: F. Lucas, jun., 1837.

This is a very early example of American lithography with color for a general audience. The drawings were done by Ann Smith. The hand-coloring was not standardized, various copies of the book have different colors on the plates, many have no plates at all.


Chromolithography


Allen, John Fisk.
Victoria Regia; Or, the Great Water Lily of America. With Illustrations by William Sharp ... Boston: Printed and pub. for the author, by Dutton and Wenworth, 1854.

Drawn on stone and printed by William Sharp, America's first chromolithographic printer, this was the earliest example of large scale color printing in this country.


Alphabet Comique Artiste Endiable. France: publisher unknown. Distributed by S.D. Sollers & Co. [circa 1880].

These alphabet cards are actually advertising trade cards. Many chromolithographic trade cards were issued in sets and meant to be collected by children, piece by piece. This one is unusual in being actually issued in a single unit with a box.


Audubon, John James, 1785-1851.
The Birds of America: from Original Drawings, chromolithography by J. Bien. New York: Roe Lockwood & Son, 1860.

This work epitomizes the highest quality of printed book which results from the collaboration of a great artist and a master printmaker. The original edition of The Birds of America, which consisted of 435 life-size, hand-colored aquatints, was hailed as a work of genius. Twenty years later, Julius Bien, a European-trained lithographer and map engraver, attempted to reproduce the quality of the original aquatints using the new techniques of chromo-lithography. The technical problems of transferring the images to stone and recreating the subtleties of hand coloring proved time consuming and expensive and the project was never finished. The one volume that was completed, however, stands as a landmark of early color printing.


Bacon, Mary Ann.
Winged Thoughts. Drawn on stone by E.L. Bateman. London: Longman & Co., 1851.

Designed by Owen Jones, this is the very epitome of the Victorian book. The illustrations are brightly colored, a variety of design motifs are used throughout, and the poetry is overly sentimental.


The Book of Ruth, from the Holy Scriptures: Enriched with Coloured Borders, Selected from Illuminated Mss. In the British Museum... the Illuminations Arranged and Executed under the Direction of H. Noel Humphreys. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1850.

One of the greatest of the nineteenth century illuminators, Humphreys did not merely imitate religious manuscripts, he created fresh designs in their spirit. His inspiration in this book were the medieval Flemish and Italian masters. He envisioned the book as a whole, with each two-page spread as a unit. In this work pages with softer greys and gold alternate with ones in full color.


Byron, George Gordon, 1788-1824.
The Prisoner of Chillon. Illuminated by W. & G. Audsley; chromolithographed by W. R. Tymms. London: Day, 1865.

The Audsley brothers were architects who had particular interest in polychromic decoration. They collaborated on a number of books which applied color and design to book decoration.


Hovey, Charles Mason, 1810-1887.
The Fruits of America: Containing Richly Colored Figures, and Full Descriptions of All the Choicest Varieties Cultivated in the United States. Boston: C. C. Little & J. Brown, and Hovey, 1851-1856.

The Fruits of America is the first high-quality chromolithographic book published in America. Its ninety-six plates contain subtle gradations in tone and complex overprinting that were the equal of the best work being done in England at the time. The printer, William Sharp, was the first American chromolithographic printer.


Humphreys, Henry Noel, 1810-1879.
A Record of the Black Prince. Being a Selection of Such Passages in His Life as Have Been Most Quaintly and Strikingly Narrated by Chroniclers of the Period, Embellished with Highly Wrought Miniatures and Borderings... London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1849.

Focusing on early English history, A Record of the Black Prince is an exception to the mainly religious subjects of illuminated books of the period. The decorative borders and illustrations are copied from medieval manuscripts. Showing all aspects of the printer's art, the illustrations are chromolithographs, the borders and initials are wood engravings, and the type done by letterpress. The binding was one of the most elaborate of the period. Called papier mache, it was cast in black plaster made to look like carved ebony and pierced to show a crimson paper background.


Insect Changes: an Illuminated Present for Youth: Forming a First Lesson in Entomology. London: Grant and Griffith, 1848.

Written and illustrated by Noel Humphreys, the great book artist, this small children's book is an example of high-quality lithography used for an inexpensive popular work.


Jones, Owen, 1809-1874.
Designs for Mosaic and Tessellated Pavements, with an essay on their materials and structure, by F. O. Ward. London: Pub. by J. Weale, for J. M. Blashfield, 1842.

In this early example of full-color lithography, the color is applied in flat geometric areas, without overlapping. A close look at the plates shows occasional problems with the register, the color runing slightly outside of the lines, but the overall look is very interesting.


Jones, Owen, 1809-1874.
Examples of Chinese Ornament Selected from Objects in the South Kensington Museum and Other Collections. London : S. & T. Gilbert, 1867.

The South Kensington Museum, now the Victoria and Albert Museum, was the newly-created center for the study of ceramics, silver and other decorative arts, whose goal was the improvement of British products through the study of well-designed objects from the past. One of Owen Jones' last works, Examples brings together his long-time study of design motifs and the improvements in printing technology not available for his earlier works.


Lays of the Western World, illuminated by T.W. Gwilt Mapleson. New York: Putnam [1848].

T. W. Mapleson was the best of the American illuminated book designers. He used chromolithography throughout; even the text is done by this method. This type of publication, known as a gift book was meant to be displayed on a table rather than read, similar to today's coffee table book.


Moore, Thomas, 1779-1852.
Paradise and the Peri. London: Day & Son [1860].

Designed by Owen Jones, Paradise and the Peri is taken from a longer work, Lalla Rookh, a very popular tale supposedly based on Persian mythology. The story follows a beautiful spirit who travels the world seeking a gift that will allow her to enter Heaven. The exotic tale allowed Jones to use motifs from Egypt and Persia as well as more traditional Western ones.


Petit, Victor, 1820?-1874.
Maisons de campagne des environs de Paris: Choix des plus remarquables maisons bourgeoises nouvellement construites aux alentours de Paris... Paris: Monrocq freres, ca.1850.

Little is known about this French lithographer. He exhibited lithographs in the exhibits of the Paris Salon and was a contributor to the most famous publication of French landscape prints, Voyages pittoresques et romantiques dans l'ancienne France.


L. Prang and Company.
The Prang Examples of Historic Ornament. Boston : The Company [circa 1890].

Prang brought the elements of historic design to the attention of the American public. These styles could be used for interior decoration, fabric, or furniture design.


Prang & Co.
Prang's Prize Babies: How this Picture Is Made: an Outline of the Process of Chromolithography in General, Illustrated by Progressive Proofs of "The Prize Babies" ... Boston: L. Prang & Co. [1888].

Louis Prang emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1850 and soon established a commercial lithographic company in Boston. He became the best known printer of popular chromolithography in America, producing maps, cards, books, and artistic prints. He produced thousands of reproductions of popular oil paintings--the chubby children, beautiful women, and pastoral landscapes we identify as Victorian art.


The Psalms of David, Illustrated by Owen Jones. [London, 1861].

Owen Jones is considered to be the greatest chromolithographic designer of the nineteenth century. His feeling for the design of the book as a whole influenced William Morris and, through him, the Arts and Crafts Movement. The Psalms uses a restricted palette of red, blue and gold for all of its decorations. The book was known as the Victoria Psalter because Queen Victoria accepted the dedication.


Russell, William Howard, Sir, 1820-1907.
A Memorial of the Marriage of H.R.H. Albert Edward Prince of Wales and H. R. H. Alexandra Princess of Denmark. Illustrated by Robert Dudley. London: Day and Son [1864]

The text was written by William Howard Russell, the war correspondent for the Times newspaper of London. The forty-three color plates pictured the processions and ceremonies of the royal wedding as well as the wedding gifts.


Texier, Charles-Felix-Marie, 1802-1871.
Byzantine Architecture: Illustrated by Examples of Edifices Erected in the East During the Earliest Ages of Christianity, with Historical & Archaeological Descriptions, by Charles Texier and R. Popplewell Pullan. London: Day & Son, 1864.

Charles Texier, one of the early scholarly leaders in Byzantine art studies, produced the drawings. Of the seventy lithograph plates, thirteen are in full color, the rest are tinted in one shade.


Ward, Marcus, 1806-1847.
A Practical Treatise on the Art of Illuminating: with Examples, Chromographed in Fac-simile and in Outline, of the Styles Prevailing at Different Periods, from the Sixth Century to the Present Time. London: Marcus Ward & Co. [1873].

Marcus Ward & Co., the English printing company, is best known for their high quality greeting cards and children's books. A Practical Treatise is aimed at the amateur painter. It states that "there is nothing in the whole range of the Illuminating art of the Middle Ages...that the pains-taking student may not equal, or even surpass...by diligent application to its study." To this aim, it includes examples of alphabets and design elements copied from manuscripts.


Wyatt, Matthew Digby, 1820-1877.
The Industrial Arts of the Nineteenth Century: a Series of Illustrations of the Choicest Specimens Produced by Every Nation, at the Great Exhibition of Works of Industry, 1851... London: Day and Son, 1851-53.

The Great Exhibition of 1851 was the first international exhibition of arts and manufactures, the precursor of the World's Fairs. Matthew Digby Wyatt, Secretary to the Executive Committee of the Commissioners of the Great Exhibition, conceived this publication as a display of the best objects in the Exhibition reproduced by the most modern technology available. With 160 large-sized plates produced in under two years, the project was the most ambitious chromolithographic project of its time.


Color Printing: Introduction Intaglio Processes Relief Processes Nature Printing


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