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American Hand-Colored Lithographs

The invention of lithography at the turn of the 19th century opened a new world for bird illustrators. It brought many advantages to the artist — ease of use, a softness of line, and a new freedom to effect bold designs with a wide range of light and dark tones. Most of the fine ornithology books of the 19th century were prepared in folio format with hand-colored lithographic plates.

The lithographic process is one of flat surface printing from a design drawn on stone. It is based on the principle of the resistance of grease to water. There are no raised or cut portions, as there are in engraving and etching. The image is drawn with greasy ink or chalk on a smooth stone, and the rest of the stone is treated with gum arabic and nitric acid. The gum retains the lines of the greasy design, which repels the water used in printing. Special paper and ink, as well as a special press, are needed to produce the prints.

First used for bird illustration in 1820, lithography was widely adopted by the best artists of the century. The technique was popular because the artist could draw his own illustration directly on the lithographic stone. Prints could be made from the drawing with no intermediary such as an engraver. Accurately reproduced and then colored by hand, the resulting illustrations gave the impression of original watercolor paintings.
Surrender of Cornwallis: at York-Town Va. Oct. 1781
1844
1844
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1894
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1894
1,020 Media in collectionpage 1 of 11
Catharine
Maria
James K. Polk - eleventh president of the United States / lith. & pub. by N. Currier, 2 Spruce St., N.Y.

James K. Polk - eleventh president of the United States / lith. & pub....

James K. Polk, half-length portrait, seated, facing slightly left, with the U.S. Capitol seen through window in the background.

John
Isabella
James
Charlotte
Mary
Phebe
Cornelia
Sarah Ann
Sophia
Elizabeth
My sister
Susan
Pointers
Laura
Maria
The lovers
My brother
Flora
Fanny
Margaret
Jeanette
Georgianna
Hannah
Josephine
Caroline

Library Of Congress

The objects in this archive are from Library of Congress - the nation’s first established cultural institution and the largest library in the world, with millions of items including books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The Library provides Congress, the federal government and the American people with a rich, diverse and enduring source of knowledge to inform, inspire and engage them and support their intellectual and creative endeavors.

Disclaimer: A work of the Library of Congress is "a work prepared by an officer or employee" of the federal government "as part of that person's official duties." In general, under section 105 of the Copyright Act, such works are not entitled to domestic copyright protection under U.S. law and are therefore in the public domain. This website is developed as a part of the world's largest public domain archive, PICRYL.com, and not developed or endorsed by the Library of Congress, https://www.picryl.com

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