The Philadelphia Print Shop

Chromolithography: The Art of Color
Natural History

[ Exhibit index ]


Print by John James Audubon. From The Birds of America. New York: J. Bien, 1860. Chromolithograph. Very good condition, except as noted.

Because of the continued strong demand for the prints, a second edition of Audubon's work was begun in 1860. Published in New York, these prints were lithographs using chromolithography, a relatively new and expensive process at the time. With the disruptions caused by the Civil War, this edition was never completed, and so these prints are even rarer than those of the first edition. As the first totally American Audubon prints, matching those of the first edition in beauty and drama, these are wonderful pieces of American history. The following prints are from this edition.

Canvas Back
Prints by Alexander Pope, Jr. From Upland Game Birds and Water Fowl of the United States. New York: Scribner, Armstrong and Co., 1877-78. Chromolithographs. 14 x 20. Very good condition.

Alexander Pope Jr. was one of a group of important sporting artists who developed an American style of watercolors in the late nineteenth century. Many of these artists, including Pope, issued portfolios of chromolithographs after their watercolors, and these prints are from Pope's series of game birds and water fowl.

Lake Trout
Prints by A.D. Turner. From Forest, Lake and River: The Fishes of New England and Eastern Canada. New York: Frank M. Johnson, 1901. 17 1/2 x 27 3/4. Chromolithographs by Sackett & Wilhelm's Lith. & Ptg. Co. With title labels. Very good condition. Note: reflections in images are from mylar not prints.

Along with Alexander Pope, other artists from the turn of the century were developing an American style of sporting art and many of their images were, like Pope's, being turned into chromolithographed prints. A.D. Turner was one of these artists and the chromolithographs of fish made after his watercolors are among the most impressive of the period.

Petrie Sacramento PikeSpacerPetrie Common Bullhead
J.L. Petrie. From William C. Harris' The Fishes Of North America That Are Captured On Hook And Line. New York, 1895-98. 10 x 18. Chromolithographs. Very good condition.

A excellently and accurately rendered series of prints of North American game fish from William C. Harris' ambitious late nineteenth century folio volume. This work was intended to be of superior quality, and efforts were made to this end to the extent that the costs were so high that only one of the two intended volumes was ever completed. In the first part, the publishers stated "neither labor nor money will be economized in the effort to make the publication unequaled in angling literature." Unfortunately, this care in production was not rewarded with financial success, though the artistic success was considerable.

Harris stated that the volume was intended to give as much information as possible about the native American game fish as well as to provide lifelike portraits of various species. For this purpose a professional artist, J.L. Petrie, accompanied Harris around the country in order to paint the fish in as fresh a state as possible, "before the sheen of their color tints had faded." Harris would catch a fish, lay it out for Petrie, who would immediately paint the subject. These paintings were then painstakingly reproduced by chromolithography, using as many as 15 tints per image in order "to reproduce the exact tone and mellow transfusion of color so frequently seen in many species of fish when alive. So closely has the oil effect been followed that an expert cannot distinguish the painting from its copy at a distance of ten feet." With much justification, Harris states that the prints "are minutely accurate in anatomical detail and in the more difficult matter of coloration."


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