The Munich actor and playright, Alois Senefelder (1771-1834) discovered lithography (from the Greek lithos and graphos, 'stone writing'), in 1798. This form of 'chemical printing' soon became a popular medium for artists. His system / technique was based on the simple chemical fact of the mutual repellence of grease and water.
The image is applied to a grained, or polished surface of a stone , usually limestone (now usually aluminium), with a greasy material, such as crayon or tusche. Once the image is completed the stone or aluminium plate is treated with an acid solution (a mix of gum arabic and nitric acid ) which reacts with the waxy drawing materials. Once the solution has been applied to the entire surface of the plate, the reaction produces a water receptive area (non printing) and a grease receptive area (printing). The surface is kept wet, so that a roller with acid based ink can be rolled over the surface of the plate. The ink will only stick to the grease receptive areas ('the drawn design'). A piece of paper is laid on the plate and it is run through a press which applies light pressure.
Lithography made colour printing easier, with areas of different colours being applied to separate stones and over printed onto the same sheet. The technique has continued to be popular with modern artists such as Matisse and Picasso.
Toko Shinoda (b. 1913). Drama. Lithograph, with added and gold brush strokes. 53 x 72 cm.
Dealer -The Tolman Collection