Ferme a Conflans sur Anille, 1855
Ferme a Conflans sur Anille, 1855
Multi Pigment Photolithograph
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Alphonse Louis Poitevin

French, 1819–1882
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Poitevin’s photolithographic process is seemingly outside the purview of an account of photogravure. However, attention must be paid to his process within the context of this site because it was a commercial rival to the many photogravure processes, and Poitevin ultimately won duc de Luynes competiton.

In 1855 Poitevin patented a photolithographic process which was able to photosensitize a lithographic stone. He set himself up as a lithographer that year, and soon pulled more than 18,000 prints, many for books. Poitevin often printed as many as 1,500 prints from a single stone at a cost of 23 to 70 centimes each, depending on size. This was far cheaper than Blanquart-Evrard had been able to achieve with his assembly-line photographic printing establishment. Poitevin’s photomechanical process was so commercially successful that he sold his patent in 1857 to Lemercier, one of the largest printing houses in France, who continued to exploit the process with the same success.

Despite its obvious commercial viability, the tones of a Poitevin photolithograph nearly always seem washed out, lacking both the richness of a good photogravure and the subtlety of a photographic print. Beauty, however, was not the principal criterion for judging the duc de Luynes competition.

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