–  Feld Haus – Museum of Popular Imagery

Departure to the land of colors

The invention of new image printing processes in the 19th century

In the 19th century, the world became a little more colorful! The development of new printing processes made it possible for the first time to produce color images in high quality and large print runs. Above all, the invention of lithography by Alois Senefelder in 1797 revolutionized printing and marked the beginning of the mass distribution of printed images. Chromolithography then brought color into play. Many of the printed products that came onto the market were used to beautify living spaces. Decorative wall prints of saints, landscape and city views, or genre scenes were particularly popular. But advertising posters, packaging and children's books also attracted attention with their brilliant colors. The new printing techniques made much larger print runs possible and caused prices to drop. And so the colorful images became affordable for all sections of the population. The further development of printing techniques, for example through steel engraving, and finally the reproduction technique of photography caused the flood of images to continue to rise.
The exhibition presents, explains and visualizes the variety of different printing processes that were developed and used in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of the printed colorful sheets are thereby scrutinized in the actual sense of the word: For it is only when they are enlarged that the details and the differences between the printing techniques can be seen clearly. The exhibition is being developed and realized in cooperation with CICS - Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences, Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

"Elfenspiel", after a painting by Hans Zatzka (detail)

around 1920, chromolithography, photo: M. Langenberg
Donation Dr. Irmgard Feldhaus 2006


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