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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

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Sellers Who Sell Photogravure


White Knight Auctions

White Knight Auctions

Robinhood Auctions

Robinhood Auctions

KCM Galleries

KCM Galleries

Novartia

Novartia