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Developments of Printmaking in the 1800s

The 19th century witnessed significant developments and features in the field of printmaking. Printmaking techniques continued to evolve, and artists explored new artistic possibilities. Here are the main developments and features of printmaking in the 1800s:


Lithography: Lithography, a planographic printing technique, was invented in the late 18th century but gained prominence in the 19th century. It allowed for a wider range of artistic expression due to its ability to reproduce detailed drawings and the subtleties of shading and texture. Famous artists like Honoré Daumier and Francisco Goya embraced lithography as a means of social and political commentary.


Etching and Aquatint: Etching and aquatint techniques continued to be popular in the 19th century. Artists like Francisco Goya, James Whistler, and Édouard Manet utilized these techniques to create intricate and atmospheric prints.


Woodcut and Wood Engraving: Woodcut and wood engraving techniques were still widely used in the 19th century. Artists like Thomas Bewick and Félix Vallotton created wood engravings known for their intricate details and sharp contrasts.


Steel Engraving: Steel engraving allowed for fine, detailed reproductions of paintings and illustrations. It was often used for book illustrations, banknotes, and other printed materials.


Drypoint and Soft Ground Etching: Artists such as Francisco Goya and James Whistler experimented with drypoint and soft ground etching techniques, creating prints with rich textures and expressive lines.


Japanese Woodblock Printing: In the latter half of the 19th century, Japanese woodblock prints, or ukiyo-e, had a profound impact on Western art. Artists like Vincent van Gogh and Edgar Degas were influenced by the bold colours, composition, and subject matter of Japanese prints.


Photogravure: Photogravure, a process that allowed for the reproduction of photographs through etching, was developed in the 19th century. This innovation contributed to the popularisation of photographic prints.


Expansion of the Art Market: The 19th century saw the growth of a broader art market, with prints becoming more accessible to the general public. Prints were used for advertising, book illustrations, and as standalone artworks.


National Schools: Different countries developed their own distinct printmaking traditions. For example, the British school of printmaking was known for its narrative and illustrative qualities, while the German school, influenced by Romanticism, focused on the emotional and dramatic aspects of printmaking.


Social and Political Commentary: Many artists used printmaking as a means of social and political commentary. Francisco Goya’s “Los Caprichos” and Honoré Daumier’s satirical lithographs are prime examples of prints being used to critique societal issues.


Technical Advancements: Advances in printing technology, such as steam-powered printing presses, allowed for larger print runs and more affordable prints. This contributed to the wider dissemination of art through prints.

Muchachos al avio by Francisco Goya
Muchachos al avio, Francisco Goya, Jan Johnson, Old Master & Modern Prints
Løsrivelse II / Separation II by Edvard Munch
Løsrivelse II / Separation II, Edvard Munch, John Szoke Gallery
The Kitchen, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Annex Galleries
Seated Courtesan, Referring To Ebisu by Yashima Gakutei
Seated Courtesan, Referring To Ebisu, Yashima Gakutei, Stanza del Borgo
Trafalger Tavern, Greenwich by James Tissot
Trafalger Tavern, Greenwich, James Tissot, Christopher-Clark Fine Art
Un Homme d’armes (A Man with Weapons), Eugène Delacroix, Emanuel von Baeyer - Cabinet
La Bouee (saint-tropez: Le Port) by Paul Signac
La Bouee (Saint-Tropez: Le Port), Paul Signac, Isselbacher Gallery
Tête De Jeune Fille / Extase Poétique by Alphonse Legros
Tête De Jeune Fille / Extase Poétique, Alphonse Legros, Sylvan Cole Gallery
Au Hanneton by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Au Hanneton, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, R. S. Johnson Fine Art
Une artiste or La Femme au chevalet [An Artist or Woman at the Easel] by Jacques Villon
Une artiste or La Femme au chevalet, Jacques Villon, Sarah Sauvin
The Gate, Chelsea by Theodore Roussel
The Gate, Chelsea, Theodore Roussel, Harris Schrank Fine Prints
L’enfant Au Biscuit by Pierre Auguste Renoir
L’enfant Au Biscuit, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Michael Lisi/Contemporary Art
The Young Puritan by William Strang
The Young Puritan, William Strang, Editions Graphiques
At The Piano by Anders Zorn
At The Piano, Anders Zorn, Harris Schrank Fine Prints
L’ Atre (the Hearth). by Edouard Vuillard
L’ Atre (the Hearth), Edouard Vuillard, R E Lewis & Daughter