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History of Lithograph studios in Paris

Lithography started in Paris in the early XIXth century, when Frédéric André created the first lithograph studio in the French capital 1802. His brother Johann André had closely worked with Alois Senefelder, the inventor of lithography to print music scripts, and Frédéric André learned hiss craft directly from the creator of the technique. However, financial difficulties led him to close his workshop and it was not until Charles Philibert de Lasteyrie in 1815 that another lithograph studio came to existence in Paris.  The nephew of Senefelder, Edouard Knecht arrived in Paris with the techniques learned from his uncle. He established The Senefelder & Cie Lithograph editor in 1818 and quickly gained prominence in the publishing field. Godefroy Engelmann, originally from Alsace, came to Paris and established his famous lithograph workshop . The quality of his work led him to be exposed in the Salon, the most selective art fair in Paris, from 1817 to the middle of the XIXth century. With Engelmann and chromolithography in 1836, lithography appealed to a much wider audience of artists, amongst which Delacroix and Géricault.

Paris had considerable impact on the development of lithography.  Whereas other European countries in which lithography studios where created focused on its industrial applications, Paris developed from the start an artistic take on the technique. Although France continued to research industrial applications to the lithograph method, the aesthetic dimension was much more pronounced then in neighboring countries. The dictionary of Printers-lithographers in Paris in the XIXth century shows more than a hundred different lithograph editors. Most of lithograph editors specialized in high quality illustrations for books and posters, as well as in printing musical prints. Lithographs at the time required a special permission, a brevet which entitled a legal right to print. It was possible to have this brevet in heritage, which is why numerous lithographer had their father in the business.

The heyday of lithograph as a mass market waned in the early XXth century. Yet even as printmaking died as a mass market medium, several lithographers adapted in order to suit the needs of artists who loved its unique feel. Artists came to Paris specially to create quality prints in these unique places. New lithograph studios aimed solely at artists emerged amongst the remains of industrial lithographs. Stanley William Hayter created the Atelier 17 during the 1920s. His studio moved during the Second World War to the United States and contributed to make lithography known. Upon coming back to Paris, Hayter worked in Paris with Yves Tanguy and in New York with Robert Motherwell. The Lacourière editions worked closely with Picasso for most of his works, and assisted him in creating some of his most magnificent prints. Roger Lacourière himself, known for his strong pedagogical skills, initiated Picasso to his lithograph method. In this studio did Picasso create his renowned Suite Vollard. Both of these studios closed in the last decades of the XXth century. Yet their presses continue to be used by their various successors.

Picasso Lithograph Blackstamp Lithographie

In the late XXth century , the Studio Bordas was amongst the foremost lithographer and produced a wide variety of great artists including Keith Haring, but converted to pigment prints in the last decade.  Nowadays, the lithography landscape has gently evolved as printing studio catered to artist. Lithography studios became high end venues for artists and gallerists.

The Mourlot studio in Paris boasts several printing presses, and from printing newspaper came to work with renowned artists. To this day, the Mourlot studio, since renamed Idem, continues to be a haven for numerous artists.  Atelier Guibauld still continue to create beautiful lithographs in the tradition of their forbearers. Formerly Arts Litho, the Atelier Gibault has worked with Francis Bacon, Zhang Xiao Gang and Yue Minjun.

Due to the strong tradition of printing presses and the stunning quality of their presses, these printing shops continue to thrive. All of these studios still use traditional Marinoni Voirin presses and are dedicated to fine art prints