“The specimen photograph which we give at the head of this volume is not intended, one might well believe, to make us known to our readers; but we wanted to make them understand what the scope of such an invention could be, and for that we had to take two models that the public knows well.”
By the mid 19th century it was clear that harnessing the power of photography rest in its ability to be transferred onto the printed page; a technical challenge that consumed many of the greatest scientific and entrepreneurial minds of the time. While few of the processes and their inventors have been documented, most have been forgotten.
This photolithographic technique by Auguste Belloc and Jean Julien Jacott is a good example. Auguste Belloc, born in Paris in 1800, was a portrait miniaturist and watercolor painter. By 1851, he was making portraits with the daguerreotype and calotype processes. He was one of the founding members of the Société Française de Photographie. In the mid 1850’s, he was inventing, manufacturing and selling photographic supplies and equipment, which he continued until his death in 1868. he is also a founding member of the French Society of Photography created in 1854.
Jacott was a painter and lithographer. ‘By associating photography with the power of his artistic pencil, Mr. Jacott, after having helped us to create a process which promises such beautiful results… gives birth to
a whole new industry.’
“The image we presently give is somewhat retouched, and we hardly pretend to have first reached the highest degree of perfection, but we are making new progress every day, and we can to say that our last test has come well enough for us to have the assurance of a near and complete success.”
It is indeed the solution of a great problem, to transform a photographic image obtained on stone into a lithograph which can be used to print an indefinite number of proofs on paper by means of the ordinary lithographic press.
The image we presently give is somewhat retouched, and we hardly pretend to have first reached the highest degree of perfection, but we are making new progress every day, and we can to say that our last test has come well enough for us to have the assurance of a near and complete success.
If, moreover, the portrait still requires something to arrive at the point of perfection that we are entitled to demand nowadays and that our skilfull collaborator has been able to give to this specimen, we can boldly say that, for that which is the illustration of works of art, natural history, etc., our process can already be considered perfect.
It is not without motives that we have associated with our photolithographic works a man of experience, known by so many publications and to whom we owe the reproduction of some of the masterpieces of the greatest painters. Familiar with all the difficulties of stonework, aided by that finesse of natural feeling which distinguishes the artist, Mr. Jacott, our best student in photography, has greatly assisted us in the solution of the great problem.
We are happy to report to our readers today that Mr. Jacott, understanding the future of such a discovery, has been willing to extend his hand and raise it to the glorious heights of art.
By associating photography with the power of his artistic pencil, Mr. Jacott, after having helped us to create a process which promises such beautiful results, especially for the reproduction of still life, and which can already be used without retouching, goes engage in the execution of the photolithographic portrait and give birth to
a whole new industry. It is not without happiness that we will finally see intelligent retouching lend its support to an indestructible work and multiplying to infinity, and almost for nothing, works of the greatest merit.
Substituting for whitewashed, grimacing and ephemeral images, a work of a great master, which joins the rite of a mathematical resemblance to the beauty of a calm and perfect bas-relief, this is what we have proposed to ourselves, this is the goal we want achieve and to which, thanks to the efforts and artistic skill of our collaborator,
we will be sure to arrive.
Buerger, Janet E. French Daguerreotypes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. no. 93. Subject with Niepce St. Victor.
Hanson, David A. Checklist of Photomechanical Processes and Printing, 1825-1910. , 2017. p. 17.