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Lithophotographie par MM Lerebours, Bareswill et Davanne, mis en relief pour la typographie par le procédé M. Dumont Le Secq, Henri  (French, 1818-1882)

The first means capable to print text and photograph together by letterpress.

On December 1, 1855, La Lumiere published Dumont’s new photomechanical process. Called zincographie galvanique, Dumont’s process transformed photolithographs into typographically-reproducible plates. The image used to accompany the article reproduced Lemercier, Lerebours, Barreswil et Davanne’s earlier print of Le Secq’s L’ange qui porte un cadran solaire. Any mention of LeSecq as the author of the original photograph was omitted, as if this information was not relevant to the new printing means under examination.

La Lumière praised the new invention and the print, which was displayed earlier that year in the Exposition Universelle, as the first means capable to print text and photograph together by letterpress.

The privileged role of Le Secq’s L’ange in early photomechanical printing began with the development of photolithography by Lemercier and his collaborators Lerebours, Barreswil and Davanne. Lithophotographie, as it was called at the time, was first reported to the Académie des Sciences on June 28, 1852 – just months after Le Secq made L’ange. Lemercier and crew continued to work on the process well into the next year, printing proofs to show to photographers and industrialists. While they reproduced many of Le Secq’s photographs, Lemercier chose as his signature image the view of L’ange. The print was included in a portfolio titled Lithophotographie, ou impressions obtenues sur pierre à l’aide de la photographie which was distributed to industrialists across Europe in 1853. L’ange was also featured as the first photomechanical image included in a printed journal in an 1854 issue of Bulletin de la Société d’encouragement pour l’industrie nationale.

After 1854, the image was printed in numerous photomechanical processes by different inventors. At the Exposition Universelle of 1855, "L’ange portant le cadran solaire" was displayed in three different locations, each representing three different graphic processes: the same image was exhibited as a salted-paper print, as a photolithograph, and as an image transferred onto a zinc plate called "litho-typo-gravure." Alphonse Poitevin, who introduced a rival process of photolithography in 1856, also used the same view of Chartres for one of his early reproductions. By the 1870s, LeSecq’s L’ange portant le cadran solaire was again reissued by the printer Thiel in a new series of photolithographs made as yet another printer’s portfolio. [1] [2]

La Lumière was the journal of the world’s first photographic society, the Société Héliographique, founded in January, 1851. La Lumière began publication of 9 February making it the third photographic journal to appear worldwide; the other two began a few months earlier. Ernest Lacan became the editor on December of 1851 and continued in that position until he resigned in December of 1860. Among the distinctions La Lumière collected was the publication of possibly the first continuous tone photograph – an early form of photogravure – reproduced from a photograph in the 7 October 1854 issue; the image is of the Bibliothèque du Louvre by Mme. P. Riffaut and was printed on the same paper alongside a column of text. Subsequent issues of 1854 reproduce additional photogravures. This journal is invaluable for the artistic and well as the technical discussions and criticism. [3]

Negre’s Le départ des volontaires (bas-relief of the Arc de Triomphe) was printed in the December 23, 1854 issue in an edition of 2000. And Negre’s Le Maçon accroupi was published October 21, 1854. See Eder p Eder indicates a full run as 12 numbered volumes; Gernsheim states in the catalogue of his collection that the publication terminated in 1862.


[1] Rosen, H. Jeffrey, Lemercier & de: Photolithography and the Industrialisation of Print Production in France, 1837-1859, PhD dissertation, Evanston, Illinois, June 1988

[2] Rosen, H. Jeffrey, Lemercier et Compagnie: Photolithography and the industrialization of print production in France. Ph.D. dissertation. Northwestern University 1988

[3] Andrew Cahan catalog.