ANTIQUE CHROMOLITHOGRAPH by CATLIN
This 136 year old CHROMOLITHOGRAPH print is from the book "ILLUSTRATIONS of the CONDITION of the NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS" by George Catlin, that was published in London by Chatto & Windus in 1876.
Chromolithography is a method for making multi-color prints. This type of color printing stemmed from the process of lithography, and it includes all types of lithography that are printed in color. Chromolithography became the most successful of several methods of color printing developed by the 19th century. The initial technique involved the use of multiple lithographic stones, one for each color, and was still extremely expensive when done for the best quality results. Depending on the number of colors present, a chromolithograph could take months to produce, by very skilled workers. To make an expensive reproduction print as what was once referred to as a “’chromo’”, a lithographer, with a finished painting in front of him, gradually created and corrected the many stones using proofs to look as much as possible like the painting in front of him, sometimes using dozens of layers.
The process of chromolithography is chemical, because an image is applied to a stone or zinc plate with a grease-based crayon. (Limestone and zinc are two commonly-used materials in the production of chromolithographs.) After the image is drawn onto stone, the stone is gummed with gum arabic solution and weak nitric acid, and then inked with oil-based paints and passed through a printing press along with a sheet of paper to transfer the image to the paper. Colors may be added to the print by drawing the area to receive the color on a different stone, and printing the new color onto the paper. Each color in the image must be separately drawn onto a new stone or plate and applied to the paper one at a time. It was not unusual for twenty to twenty-five stones to be used on a single image. Each sheet of paper will therefore pass through the printing press as many times as there are colors in the final print. In order that each color is placed in the right position in each print, each stone or plate must be precisely ‘registered,’ or lined up, on the paper using a system of register marks.
This very fine chromo print has an image that is about 7" X 5" on a page that is 9 1/2 " x 6 " and blank on the back. It is in very good condtion with some minor natural age toning. It is suitable for framing and would be an excellent gift.
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