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When was lithography invented?

Updated: Feb 3, 2022

Miscellaneous Musings



When was lithography invented?

When was lithography invented? Depending on which form of research used, you will be given a choice of three dates: 1796, 1797, 1798. But a well-known French poster advertising an exhibition celebrating the centenary of lithography, dated 1895, implying that it was invented in 1795.


The poster I am referring to is by an artist who signs his works F. Hugo d’Alési (real name Frédéric Alexianu). It depicts a fashionably dressed female print connoisseur tilting her gaze towards an early 19th century black and white lithographic military print by Nicolas Toussaint Charlet, and a colour lithographic poster by the reputed father of the modern poster, Jules Chéret. She is admiring these prints at one of the iconic bouquiniste stalls lining the river Seine in Paris.


The reason for posting this story at this moment in time is because the original oil painting artwork (known as a maquette in the US) for the d’Alesi poster is up for sale at one of Jack Rennert’s splendid poster auctions in New York.













































The above reproduction is a little dark, but you can see the Courmont Frères and the Galerie Rapp captions are not included. The Chéret poster, which originally advertised the publication of Madame Sans Gêne, a serialised novel published in a daily republican newspaper, Le Radical, has been altered and adapted for the purposes of advertising the exhibition. The company that printed the poster, imprimerie Courmant Frères (see the very top of the poster), a well-established lithographic printing firm in Paris, has subtly managed to get its name included. “Exposition du” has been added at the base of the poster, “Centenaire de la Lithographie: Galerie Rapp” lettered as if on le plus typique French green and black marbled portfolio. No address. No date.










































F. Hugo d'Alesi Centenaire de la Lithographie
poster
1895






















Jules Chéret Lire dans Le Raadical: Madame Sans Gêne poster
1894



The background of the painting shows an interesting scene along the Seine leading to the Eiffel Tower and the dome of the church of the Hôtel des Invalides. At a time when Jules Chéret, a master lithographer, learned to pare down the colours used in the printing of his posters to four or five, it is a remarkable feat achieved by an artisan lithographer at the Courmont printing works of faithfully managing to reproduce the oil painting as a lithographic print. Impossible to work out without seeing the poster in front of me, but I would guess at least 15 printings. Look at the subtle way the sky has been reproduced. It is extremely rare to be able to compare an original artwork (maquette) with a printed poster from this period.


Strangely, there were at least four posters produced advertising the Centenaire de Lithographie exhibition, and one of them actually included the address of the exhibition and when it was on, October – November 1895



















Paul Maurou Exposition du Centenaire de la Lithographie poster
Printed by Paul Dupont
1895



















PAL (Jean de Paleogu) Exposition du Centenaire de la Lithographie poster
Printed by Paul Dupont
1895




















Pierre Purvis de Chavannes
Centenaire de la Lithographie
poster Printed by Lemercier 1895

I believe the Rapp gallery was part of the huge Palais des Beaux-Arts, built for the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle. The exhibition probably took place on the first floor, as in this photograph



















And, in 1999 the Bibliothèque historique de la Ville de Paris staged an exhibition celebrating 200 years of lithography!

Did this exhibition poster imply that lithography was invented in 1799?































200 ans de lithographie 16 mars au 9 mai 1999
Bibliothèque historique de la Ville de Paris
poster
(Collection: Graham Twemlow)

3 commentaires


Mary Casserley
Mary Casserley
11 nov. 2021

another well-researched enjoyable blog, thank you.


J'aime
Graham Twemlow
Graham Twemlow
11 nov. 2021
En réponse à

Thanks Mary.

J'aime

Mary Casserley
Mary Casserley
11 nov. 2021

another well-researched blog, thank you.


J'aime
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