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Photogravure

A photogravure is a method of reproducing a photographic image to make large editions of prints. Photogravures were used in newspaper printing until offset lithography replaced it in 1910. Many photographers were opinionated about the quality of their reproductions, and often preferred photogravure for the rich tones that could be achieved through the process.

Photogravures are printed by contacting a transparent positive image with gelatin bichromate and exposing it to light. The sensitized gelatin solution hardens where it has been exposed to light, and when placed on a copper plate, the unexposed areas can be washed away. The plate can then be submerged in an acid bath, similar to the etching printmaking process. The image is thus successfully transferred to the metal plate, inked and printed.


Quick Facts

  • In 1850, Peter Henry Emerson advocated for pictorial photography in a reaction to genre scenes and landscapes. Emerson believed in photogravure as one of the only acceptable methods of printing photographs for its similarity to etching and its directness
  • Alvin Langdon Coburn, instrumental in the early 20th century pictorial photography movement, formed a partnership with writer George Bernard Shaw to create images for his novels. Coburn was educated in the craft of photogravure, and had a press in his studio to allow him to reproduce the prints himself
  • Camera Work, the influential magazine published by Alfred Stieglitz between 1903 and 1917, made use of the photogravure in all editions. The photogravures for all fifty issues were made on a thin Japanese paper, and each was devoted to the work of a member of the Photo Secession

Recommended Items at Auction

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19thc Photogravure, Meissonier, 18thc Gentleman
Jun 29, 2:00 PM EDT
19thc Photogravure, Meissonier, 18thc Gentleman
by Connoisseur Online
Est: $40- $80
$200 Bids
Annan, James Craig
Jun 19, 10:00 AM BST
Annan, James Craig
by Lyon & Turnbull
Est: £250- £350
£1500 Bids
Annan, Thomas
Jun 19, 10:00 AM BST
Annan, Thomas
by Lyon & Turnbull
Est: £400- £600
£2400 Bids
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LYNN MANOS, AEGEAN SEA #37, DIRECT GRAVURE
Jun 18, 11:00 AM EDT
LYNN MANOS, AEGEAN SEA #37, DIRECT GRAVURE
by RoGallery
Est: $450- $550
$3000 Bids
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Gallery Framed 1919 RENOIR Limited Engraving "Shepherdess Cow & Ewe" SIGNED
Jun 19, 10:00 AM EDT
Gallery Framed 1919 RENOIR Limited Engraving "Shepherdess Cow & Ewe" SIGNED
by KCM Galleries
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$7500 Bids
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K. Machatschek Leaves 1930's photogravure
Jun 19, 10:00 AM EDT
K. Machatschek Leaves 1930's photogravure
by KCM Galleries
Est: $300- $500
$900 Bids
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Jean-Marc NATTIER SIGNED Antique Print Madame Marsollier & Daughter FRAMED
Jun 19, 10:00 AM EDT
Jean-Marc NATTIER SIGNED Antique Print Madame Marsollier & Daughter FRAMED
by KCM Galleries
Est: $400- $600
$1600 Bids
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Claude Simon Street Scene 1930's photogravure
Jun 19, 10:00 AM EDT
Claude Simon Street Scene 1930's photogravure
by KCM Galleries
Est: $500- $700
$1100 Bids
Mark Andrews, Iowa 20th-21st Century, photogravures
Jun 21, 10:00 AM CDT
Mark Andrews, Iowa 20th-21st Century, photogravures
by Link Auction Galleries
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
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William Hull Ambleside 1887 Print Framed
Jun 19, 10:00 AM EDT
William Hull Ambleside 1887 Print Framed
by KCM Galleries
Est: $400- $600
$1000 Bids
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Herbert Railton 1890 Antique Print St. Pierre Caen Gallery Framed
Jun 19, 10:00 AM EDT
Herbert Railton 1890 Antique Print St. Pierre Caen Gallery Framed
by KCM Galleries
Est: $500- $700
$1100 Bids
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Valerio Adami Memories 1975 Print Signed
Jun 19, 10:00 AM EDT
Valerio Adami Memories 1975 Print Signed
by KCM Galleries
Est: $300- $500
$1000 Bids
Edward Curtis Photogravure "Comanche Mother" (1927)
Jun 20, 8:00 AM MDT
Edward Curtis Photogravure "Comanche Mother" (1927)
by Artemis Gallery
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
Annan, Thomas
Jun 19, 10:00 AM BST
Annan, Thomas
by Lyon & Turnbull
Est: £500- £700
£3000 Bids
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Marie Antoinette (after the Bust at South Kensington) 1887 Print
Jun 23, 10:00 AM EDT
Marie Antoinette (after the Bust at South Kensington) 1887 Print
by KCM Galleries
Est: $400- $600
$1000 Bids
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Brassai Aristide Maillol's Studio XII 1930's photogravure
Jun 23, 10:00 AM EDT
Brassai Aristide Maillol's Studio XII 1930's photogravure
by KCM Galleries
Est: $400- $600
$1000 Bids
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Eger Termet In the Reserves of the Louvre Deposit 1930's Antique Photogravure
Jun 23, 10:00 AM EDT
Eger Termet In the Reserves of the Louvre Deposit 1930's Antique Photogravure
by KCM Galleries
Est: $300- $500
$1000 Bids
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Monet's Garden 1937-1940 Photogravure
Jun 23, 10:00 AM EDT
Monet's Garden 1937-1940 Photogravure
by KCM Galleries
Est: $300- $500
$900 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Photogravure


KCM Galleries

KCM Galleries

Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC

Grant Zahajko Auctions, LLC

Robinhood Auctions

Robinhood Auctions

Clars Auctions

Clars Auctions