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Photogravure

(Fr.: héliogravure)

An intaglio photomechanical printing process invented by Karl Klic (also, Klitsch or Klietsch, 1841–1927) of Vienna in 1879. It was based on W.H.F. Talbot’s photoglyphic engraving process.

The original process, also called aquatint photogravure, dust grain photogravure or Talbot-Klic process, works as follow: a copper plate, grained with resin dust, is etched through a gelatin relief image prepared photographically. The etching is then inked and printed. In 1910, Dr. Mertens introduced his Monochrome Intaglio Process (aka. intaglio half-tone) –intaglio pictures combined with letterpress text.

The photogravure process was extensively employed by pictorial photographers at the end of the 19th century and is revived today by artist photographers and printmakers. Photogravure is also the ultimate facsimile process for the reproduction of etchings because the lines it reproduces are indeed etched in the printing plate. Rembrandt’s work has been the subject of more forgeries and facsimile reproductions than any other artist’s.

The modern (i.e., conventional) process is called screen photogravure. In this process, the continuous tone positive and gravure screen are exposed in succession onto carbon tissue which is mounted on the copper-plated gravure cylinder. This is known as rotogravure. A later form, where the plate is made flat and afterwards curved around a cylinder, is known as “plategravure” (ca. 1930s). Photogravures are often referred to as “gravures.”

The most recent book on photogravure is by David Morrish and Marlene MacCallum, Copper Plate Photogravure: Demystifying the Process, Boston, Focal Press, 2003. (Nadeau, Encyclopedia, p. xxx.).

"Behind the scene". Screened photogravure reproduction of a Robert Demachy photograph, 1905. 122x135 mm "Behind the scene". Screened photogravure reproduction of a Robert Demachy photograph, 1905. 122 x 135 mm

“Behind the scene. Screened photogravure reproduction of a Robert Demachy photograph, 1905. 122 x 135 mm.