As a printing process lithography is probably the most unrestricted. It produces tones ranging from intense black to the most delicate gray as well as a full range of colors. It also simulates with equal facility the effects of pencil, pen, crayon, or brush drawing. White lines are readily produced by scratching through the drawing on the stone. Several hundred fine proofs can be taken from a stone. The medium was exploited by many artists in the 19th cent., including Goya, Delacroix, Daumier, Gavarni, Manet, Degas, Bonnard, Whistler, and Toulouse-Lautrec, whose posters are among the most celebrated lithographic masterworks. In the United States, A. B. Davies, George Bellows, Joseph Pennell, and Currier and Ives are among the many artists noted for their lithographs.
For the commercial reproduction of art works, photolithography has played an increasingly important role. In this process a photographic negative is exposed to light over a gelatin-covered paper. Wherever the light does not strike the gelatin, the latter remains soluble while the other parts are rendered insoluble. When the soluble portions are washed away, the pattern to be printed can be inked and transferred to the stone or plate. Color lithography and color photolithography require as many stones or plates as the number of colors employed. The commercial printing applications of the lithographic process are vast in scope and almost unlimited in number.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.