Printmaking in the Late 19th Century
Despite early enthusiasm, lithography was viewed as a commercial medium, used by magazines and businesses to publish ads, cartoons, and posters. Because it undergoes virtually no wear in printing, a single stone can yield hundreds of copies. Artists were hesitant to accept the medium, fearing unlimited editions would devalue their work. By the late 19th century, publishers recognized the need for strictly limited editions, and artists began creating lithographs.
Another challenge faced by artists was coloring lithographic prints. Lithographs were hand-colored until the second half of the 19th century, when chromolithography was invented. Chromolithographs were more accurate in color and detail, and sometimes as many as 30 stones were used for a single print. This also opened up a market for botanical illustrations and scientific publications.