III Partie Pl. 4 Marville, Charles  (French, 1813-1879)

In 1855, Alphonse Poitevin improved his photolithographic process and utilized it in his studio until 1857. On October 27, 1857, for reason of poor management of business, Lemercier bought Poitevin’s studio and patent, and used photolithography in his printing house. They created a collective society for the utilization of the process. The profits were split down the middle. The society was later divided in February 1867. The use of the patent would unfortunately reveal itself barely profitable, the stress of which put the two men at odds with each other. In 1859, Poitevin began legal proceedings against Lemercier for not having put the complete title “Procédé Poitevin” on the bottom of the plates, instead putting only “P. Poitevin,” and for paying less than the full cost of the patent. The judge ruled in January 1860, in favor of Poitevin. [1]

Le Sérapéum de Memphis by Auguste Mariette, is one of only a few rare books illustrated by Poitevin’s photolithographic process. Le Sérapéum de Memphis describes the Egyptian collections in the Louvre originating from that famous site. In his preface to this sumptuous work, Mariette sings the praises of photolithography, of thanks to which the images are taken, without the intermediary of the pencil, directly from the monuments themselves.

Reproduced / Exhibited

Addleman-Frankel, Kate, Saskia Asser, and Édouard Baldus. After Photography?: The Photogravures of Édouard Baldus Reconsidered. , 2018. fig. 5.

Le Sérapéum de Memphis by Auguste Mariette in 1857, created from Charles Marville’s and Paul Berthier’s negatives (30 plates) with help from Théodule Charles Devéria (see Hannanvy/Bajac p 414)


[1] ​Aubenas Sylvie, Smith Marc H. La naissance de l’illustration photographique dans le livre d’art : Jules Labarte et l’Histoire des arts industriels (1847-1875). In: Bibliothèque de l’école des chartes. 2000, tome 158, livraison 1. pp. 169-196;

Hannavy John. 2008. Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography. New York NY: Routledge. Laure Boyer P. 844

Auer, Michel and Michelle Auer, Encyclopédie internationale des photographes de 1839 à nous jours, Paris, Camera obscura,1985.

Bouquin, Corinne, Recherches sur l’imprimerie lithographique à Paris au XIXe siècle, L’imprimerie Lemercier (1803–1901), PhD dissertation, University of Paris I, December. 1993.

Figuier, Louis, Les applications nouvelles de la science à l’industrie et aux arts en 1855, Paris, 1856.

Jammes, Andre, and Eugenia Parry Janis, The Art of French Calotype, Princeton, N.J,: Princeton University Press, 1983.

Pinsard, Jules, L’illustration du livre moderne et la photographie, Paris, 1897.

Slythe, Margaret, The Art of Illustration: 1750–1900, London, 1970;

Revue photographique, Chronique: Ateliers de M. Lemercier, no. 18, 5 avril 1857, 1.

Rosen, H. Jeffrey, Lemercier & Cie: Photolithography and the Industrialisation of Print Production in France, 1837–1859,
PhD dissertation, Evanston, Illinois, June 1988.e.

The Photograph in Print, Multiplication and Stability of the Image by Sylvie Aubenas. Frizot, Michel. A New History of Photography. , 1999. p. 230