Lithography is a printmaking process developed in 1798 by Alois Senefelder, a German actor and playwright. The printing process originally involved the application of coloured inks onto a flat surface via limestone plates coated in wax. Modern methods employ more advanced materials like metal plates and photo emulsion in place of wax and allow for printing on a variety of surfaces. Early prints could only be produced in as few as three colours. Today advanced colour and tonal techniques can be achieved by overlapping different inks in varying quantities. Signage, posters, magazines, books and art reproductions are created using lithography.
Henry Fuseli was an 18th century British painter. His work was romantic in nature, focusing primarily on mystical imagery from literature and idealised representations of historical figures. Among his most famous works is "The Nightmare," which he painted in 1781. Printed reproductions of Fuseli's paintings were included in an 1803 collection of lithographic works published in London. This collection is significant, as it was the first of its kind.
Alphonse Mucha was a prominent Czechoslovakian poster designer in the 19th and 20th century who used lithography to reproduce his work for commercial and personal projects. His style, which became known as Art Nouveau, incorporated decorative flourishes and pastel colours, as well as the heavy use of floral arrangements and other nature-inspired elements. Mucha's style was also influential in architecture, lending itself to the design of windows, railings and facades in the late 19th century.
20th century American artist Robert Rauschenberg worked with a wide variety of artistic media. As one of the foremost contributors of the multimedia and pop art movements, he made use of "found" objects and collage techniques in his paintings and sculptures. Rauschenberg commonly used lithography to make photographic copies of cultural figures and tabloid images for use in his collages.
Andy Warhol is one of the most influential lithograph artists of the 20th century. His work was created quickly and in large quantities by applying paint to the surface of his canvasses and overlaying a printed image on top of them. Fascinated with consumer culture in America and the proliferation of mass produced goods, Warhol sought to create his art in a similar fashion with the help of assistants in his New York-based studio.