Since its invention at the end of the 18th century, Lithograph has fascinated artists and the general public. Lithographs helped business printing get better in the 19th century and are still used today. Be careful to check out the interesting lithographs at The Great Republic!
What Is A LithogrLithograph aph?
A lithograph is a picture made by pressing paper on a stone covered in ink and water. This transfers the image to the paper. The word “lithograph” comes from the Greek words “lithos” and “graphics,” which mean “stone” and “write,” respectively. Artists can write or draw right on stones to make softer images with more detail than etchings.
Early lithographs were made in black ink and then had to be colored by hand. However, artists soon found a way to make color lithographs via a complicated and skilled process. Alois Senefelder, a writer from Bavaria, found the method when he was trying to make copies of his plays in the late 18th century.
The method became famous quickly, and artists like Théodore Gericault and Eugéne Delacroix used it. By the 1880s, lithograph technology was improving, making it possible to print in more colors and on bigger paper. This greatly increased the number of business options.
The changes can be seen in the close-up pictures of the lithographs below. The first is a black-and-white lithograph from 1846. The second is a hand-colored lithograph from 1842. The third is a color chromolithograph from 1908.
The Process of Lithograph
Lithography takes advantage of the fact that water and oil don’t mix or that you can’t mix them. By telling some parts of the printer to use sticky ink and other parts to use water, the printer can outline a picture to print on paper.
A wax pencil or “litho crayon” is used by an artist to draw right on a smooth limestone rock. Instead of using an etching or engraving, the artist makes a print that looks more like a picture than a cut or a scratch.
When the drawing is done, chemicals are put on the stone’s surface to make the drawing stick to the stone and show where the ink will go. First, rosin and sand are added to the picture to help pull the oil into the stone and “bind” the drawing to the surface.
Then, gum Arabic and TAPEM are used to clean the stone to assist the blank areas in accepting water and the picture areas in accepting grease. This lets the empty spaces take in water while the lithography ink stays away. The original picture is wiped away with a solution called litho-tine, leaving only a sign of it.
The stone is finally ready to be inked by rubbing asphaltum into its surface. Because of this chemical process, the sticky ink will only stay in the picture area, while it will move away from the blank, watery areas.
A brush puts water on the stone, then the printer’s ink is rolled on. This step is repeated until the whole picture can be seen with its original features. The ink stays where the picture is, but it won’t stay in the blank spaces.
A piece of paper that has been wet is carefully placed on top of the stone. A thick board is placed on top to spread the pressure and ensure an even picture.
A litho press puts enough pressure on the stone, paper, and board to ensure the ink moves to the paper and doesn’t leave out any details. Lastly, the paper may be carefully peeled off the stone, leaving a copy of the original picture in reverse.
At first, lithograph were just black pictures with no other colors. If the customer wanted a colored picture, the artist would then hand-color the image to make the end product. In the end, printers could print in multiple colors, but it took a lot of work and skill.
For a color print to be made, a new stone was required for each area of color, and all of the stones had to fit together correctly. Also, each time the paper is placed on a new color’s stone, it must be lined up properly. Even though it was hard, there was always a market for color lithograph.
With offset lithography, an American printer changed how printing was done again in 1904. Ira W. Rubel devised a way to print a picture twice, first on rubber plates and then on paper. This process, called “offset lithography,” made it possible to make pictures faster, made the original stone last longer since it was only used to print on its rubber rollers, and made images the same as the original before they were flipped.
Are They Collectible lithograph?
Most lithograph are only made in small numbers, and because the paper is so thin, not all those lithograph in a print run usually last for a long time. Artists will sometimes sign their lithograph as well. Lithograph were first made so that middle-class people who couldn’t buy expensive paintings could still have a piece of art.
However, they have become a respected and important art form in their own right. Most of the time, the lithograph sold by The Great Republic are custom-framed with UV-filtering plexiglass as well as non-acidic matting to keep these delicate but powerful works safe for a long time.