Development of Lithography
Lithography was the first truly new printing process to appear in over 300 years and relied on the chemical antipathy between oil and water. Invented by Alois Senefelder and based on experiments begun in 1796, lithography was neither a relief or an intaglio process. Rather, it was planographic; that is, the image areas and the non-image areas existed in the same plane. The importance of Senefelder’s autobiographic account of how he came to invent the process and explore its tonal and reproductive possibilities can hardly be overestimated. First published in German in 1818, a French, and this, the English edition, appeared simultaneously in 1819. The range of the treatise is enormous and full of minute detail, including explanations of a variety of “lithographic” techniques, not all of them purely planographic. The book accomplished two objectives, first, solidifying Senefelder’s claim to priority for the invention of lithography, and second, providing a much needed reference book for lithographers struggling to master all the secrets of this ground-breaking new printing process.