Lithography as an Artistic Medium

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At the beginning of the nineteenth century lithography was primarily used for the production of cheap copies of drawings and paintings.

"Girl with Flowers", Lithography by Angel Botello (1980)

At the beginning of the nineteenth century lithography was primarily used for the production of cheap copies of drawings and paintings. Around 1825 three French artists (Ingres, Géricault, and Delacroix) saw lithography as way to cut out the middle man needed for the production of copper and wood-block engravings. With lithography they no longer needed draughtsman to transfer images onto a plate or engravers to engrave the plates. The artist could avoid the middleman by creating their images directly onto the lithographic material. The lithographic image that was created was almost identical to the original because there were not alternations caused by reworking or the transfer to another medium. Lithography also gave the artist of the time the greatest color palate from black to white.

There were many exceptional artists (mostly French) who created using lithography. Examples of great work abound, including “The Bulls of Bordeaux” by Goya in 1828, Goethe's Faust, and Delacroix's illustrations. Other notable artists to use this medium include Manet, Daumier, Prud'hon, and Cezanne.

This was the first time were artists were able to send out duplications of their exact work. Lithography made it possible to create reproductions without the distortions that were inevitably created through the use of a middle man.

 

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