The Art of the Photogravure
A Comprehensive Resource Dedicated to the Photogravure
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June 15th, 2009

New Work Posted

Robert Adams always wanted to try photogravure. He admires its tactile qualities as well as its rich tone. This series of images is from his book, Harney County Oregon and was printed in collaboration with Paul Taylor of Rennaisance Press. The project was co-published by Mathew Marks Gallery and Fraenkel Gallery. An Art:21 interview of Robert discussing the project can be found here.






James Craig Annan is under recognized in today’s photography scene. He was not, however, overlooked by Stieglitz during the peak years of the Photo-Secession and the publication of Camera Work.  Just a year before Stieglitz introduced Paul Strand in Camera Work 48, he devoted an entire issue to Annan’s photographs from Spain. This somber, quiet, introspective body of work was born out of the most ordinary subject matter. It is reticent, reserved and tenderly beautiful.  The signed prints are from the collection of Raimondi Antonio who died shortly after World War I.




Mrs. N. Gray Bartlett distinguished herself as an amateur photographer at a time when relatively few women were involved in the art. An active member of the Chicago Camera Club, she displayed her work in several exhibitions, receiving recognition for idealized and sentimental imagery of women and children posed in outdoor settings… Her books, printed in high-quality tissue photogravure, combined photographs, fanciful lettering and whimsical drawings and exemplify the creative opportunity that photogravure offered to combine photography and illustration (GEH, Imagining Paradise, White, From the mundane to the magical, 65) Find here examples from  A Girl I Know.




George Davison’s innovative impressionist photographs turned the heads of the Photographic Society of Great Britain in the 1890’s. Davison’s use of a pinhole lens resulted in photographs that were difficult to distinguish from paintings.  And although this particular photographic technique came to represent all that was wrong with photography’s struggle to be recognized as art, it has found its place in history as a distinctive early phase of the pictorial movement. A signed photogravure from this period is rare  – especially one originally in the collection of Margaret Harker and published in her book, The Linked Ring: The Secession Movement in Photography in Britain, 1892 – 1910, London: Heinemann, 1979



Die Kunst in der Photographie.  These two images, one by Constance Puyo and the other by Ernest Ashton, exemplify photogravure’s capacity to offer a quality of print that is uniquely beautiful.  Although historically forgotten, they will always remain highlights of this collection.






Peter Henry Emerson’s most distinguished and most impressionistic work is considered Marsh Leaves, his last published book and one of only two in which the photogravures were printed by Emerson himself. This may be the earliest body of photographic work to show Japanese influence. The misty quality he achieves in these landscapes is also strongly reminiscent of Whistler’s ‘Nocturnes’. (Life and Landscape: P.H. Emerson Art & Photography in East Anglia 1885-1900, p. 39) This collection of prints was exhibited by the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, The J. Paul Getty Museum, and Chrysler Museum of Art between 2006 and 2008.



Roger Fenton is relevant in the study of the history of photogravure from at least two perspectives.  He has been credited with the birth of photojournalism when in 1855, The Illustrated London News published examples from The Exhibition of Photographic Pictures Taken in the Crimea (Farber, Great News Photos and the Stories Behind Them, pp. 12-13) And in 1856 Fenton managed the Photographic Department and photographed for the Photo-Galvanographic Company in London, which published, “Photographic Art Treasures” – the first periodical devoted to artistic photographic reproduction illustrated by photomechanical process. The published photogalvanographs were strongly criticized in the photographic press for their heavy retouching. Today not only are they charming, but also are rare examples from the evolution of photomechanical reproduction and photogravure. (Eder, 582)



J Dudley Johnston, elected to the Linked Ring in 1907, was twice president of the Royal Photographic Society where he played a key role in starting the Society’s permanent collection.  Johnston became one of the earliest photographic historians and his awareness of the history of the emergence of photography doubtlessly influenced his own photographic work. Margaret Harker in her The Linked Ring: The Secession Movement in Photography in Britain, 1892 – 1910, considered Johnston a leading Secessionist… ‘The more adventurous of the Secessionists explored the visual world afresh, breaking away from what had become established forms of picture making by photography.’ Most of Johnston’s work is to be found in the collection of the Royal Photographic Society, now at the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television Bradford.  It is rare to find examples on the market.  This photogravure from one of Johnston’s most famous images was purchased from the collection of Margaret Harker and happens to represent its commencement, for it is notated on the back “No.1 – the first photograph in the Harker collection.



Unai San Martin has won accolades as one of Spain’s most accomplished printmakers (Premio Nacional de Grabado, 2002; Joan Miro Foundation, Mallorca.) Experiencing one of his photogravures in person leaves little doubt why.  His work is ethereal and mysteriously beautiful.  And his craftsmanship when it comes to photogravure is non-pareil.






Man Ray was one of the few American artists involved in the international movements of Dada and Surrealism during the first half of the twentieth century. Published in 1931 and commissioned by a French electric company to promote the use of electricity, Électricité is a prime example of Ray’s experimental style and consists of 10 rayograms all related to uses of electricity and printed in photogravure. 
Electricite la Ville, illuminated by Fernand Jacopozzi’s fanciful lighting design, explodes with an overlay of neon advertisements in Man Ray’s dynamic, multiple-exposure print. Fragments of words float through the photograph like bits of overheard conversations.