Archives News

Special Collections Research Center

WPA Collection: Graphic Arts Processes



    The Yard by Jolan Gross Bettelheim
              Lithograph, 11" x 8 1/4"

Lithography was discovered in 1798 by Aloys Senefelder, who, though not an artist himself, gave to the world a medium tremendously useful both in the commercial and fine arts field. The word "lithography" means printing from stone. A surface of the stone is ground smooth and treated in such a way as to accept water and refuse grease; the remaining part is treated in a different way, reverses this action, refusing water while accepting grease. Those chemical preparations enable the printer, after wetting the surface, to make the ink stick to certain parts without sticking to other parts. This done, a print is made by pressing paper against it. It is those places on which the artist draws with the greasy crayon that refuse water, accept the greasy ink and print the image. Though various metals, especially zinc, are used to make prints in this manner, the best impressions result from the use of stone. Lithography in recent years has been very popular among artists. It seems to be the most typically used American medium. The greatest masters of lithography in America have been George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, and Albert Sterner. Among the great European artists who use this technique in their work are Daumier, Goya, Whistler, and Manet. Among the books which both artists and layman would find very helpful are Making a Lithograph by Stow Wengenroth, and Lithography for Artists by Bolton Brown.

Kelvin Smith Library | 11055 Euclid Avenue | Cleveland, OH 44106-7151 | 216-368-3506