HOTOGRAVURE HAS PLAYED AN ESSENTIAL ROLE in the origin and evolution of photography. Its history is inextricably intertwined with the earliest discoveries and pursuits of the medium. While initial interest in photogravure was motivated by an effort to solve technical problems, over time photogravure was practiced for its own distinct merits.
The history of photogravure also parallels the history of photography's struggle to be recognized as a fine art. Photographers like Peter Henry Emerson, Alfred Stieglitz, Alvin Langdon Coburn and Paul Strand made it their mission to open the eyes of the western world to the artistic potential of the medium of photography, and they relied on the supple and rich photogravure process to accomplish this end. Using photogravure they painstakingly produced books, journals and portfolios that enabled larger audiences, for the first time, to see and appreciate the aesthetic and artful capacity of photography. So enamored by the process, these photographers often chose photogravure for their own final prints.
What follows is a brief history of the relationship between the evolution of photogravure, and the art of photography.