Faster printing, larger editions, more possibilities... The lithography technique invented around 1800 allowed the production of entirely new kinds of images. Especially in France, artists experimented with the method and developed it further. The Städel Museum presented prominent masterworks of lithography from its own holdings—about ninety works in all. The Städel Museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings devoted its exhibition hall to the diversity of nineteenth-century French lithography. The invention of this entirely new method of “stone printing” at the end of the eighteenth century ushered in a new era in the reproduction of images. In comparison to older printmaking methods, the range of expressive means offered by lithography was wider, the printing process faster, and the editions larger. In France, prominent artists began experimenting with the new technique around 1820, and over the course of the nineteenth century decisively expanded its artistic possibilities.
The spectrum of works on view included eloquent compositions by Théodore Géricault, one of the rare lithographs Goya produced during the 1820s in exile in Bordeaux, Eugène Delacroix’s Goethe and Shakespeare illustrations and Honoré Daumier’s comments on politics and society in the form of newspaper caricatures. The show also featured Édouard Manet’s virtuoso inventions, Symbolist works by Rodolphe Bresdin and Odilon Redon, and masterworks of colour lithography by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and the “Nabis” Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard dating from the end of the nineteenth century. The works on display, numbering about ninety in all, represented highlights of this century and technique and provided insights into the superb holdings of the Städel’s Department of Prints and Drawings. Fifteen new acquisitions of the past years were also on exhibit.
Curator: Dr. Martin Sonnabend (Head of Prints and Drawings before 1750, Städel Museum)