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Saturday, June 2 • 10:00am - 10:30am
(Book and Paper) Stone Paper: Examination of Géricault’s Lion Devouring a Horse Lithographic Printing Matrix

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As lithography gained popularity during the beginning of the 19th century, Alois Senefelder, the inventor of lithography, marketed stone paper as a cheaper, more accessible alternative to the cumbersome limestones most commonly used for printing. Between 1820 and 1821, Théodore Géricault, one of the early proponents of lithography, experimented with the use of stone paper. The Lion Devouring a Horse stone paper matrix is in the collection of the Harvard Art Museums and is the focus of this study. Stone paper is a lithographic printing matrix made of a heavy weight paper prepared with a special coating. Like other lithographic processes, the image is drawn on the prepared surface with a greasy material and the surface is then processed and printed from. The stone paper matrix for Lion Devouring a Horse sustained numerous losses to the coating, and during printing the losses in the image area transferred to the prints as voids. Through examination and comparison between the stone paper matrix and various impressions of the print, it is evident that some prints exhibit more voids than others. This variation is an indication that the coating deteriorated as the impressions were being printed and these voids helped build a chronology of this coating deterioration. Earlier impressions of prints are typically considered to have stronger impression quality but based on the developed chronology, earlier impressions of Lion Devouring a Horse do not necessarily relate to stronger impressions.
Senefelder described stone paper coatings as compositions of clay, chalk and metallic oxides. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis of the stone paper coating revealed only the presence of lead. Small samples were taken for analysis by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS), scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive analysis (SEM-EDX) and matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI). Analysis confirmed that the material was dominated by lead white (basic lead carbonate) combined with a drying oil binder, casein and gum. Lead soaps are thought to be present within the medium.
The results of these careful comparisons, the instrumental analysis, and tests carried out on modern examples of stone paper will illustrate the practical challenges Géricault faced when printing from stone papers and the reason for their limited commercial success. 
 

Speakers
avatar for Christina Taylor

Christina Taylor

Assistant Paper Conservator, Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies/Harvard Art Museums
Christina Taylor is the Assistant Paper Conservator at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies/Harvard Art Museums. She is a graduate of SUNY Buffalo State where she earned her MA in Art Conservation in 2015. She has held positions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston... Read More →

Co-Authors
KE

Katherine Eremin

Patricia Cornwell Senior Conservation Scientist, Harvard Art Museums
Katherine Eremin is the Patricia Cornwell Senior Conservation Scientist at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies/Harvard Art Museums. She previously worked as an inorganic scientist at the National Museums of Scotland and received her PhD in 1994 from the University... Read More →
avatar for Dr. Georgina Rayner

Dr. Georgina Rayner

Conservator, Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies
Georgina Rayner begun her academic career as a chemist at the University of Warwick (UK) where in 2008 she obtained a Masters in Chemistry. After developing an interest in polymer science she proceeded to obtain her PhD in Chemistry, completed in 2012, at the same institution where... Read More →
CW

Christopher Wallace

Artist/Lithographer/Educator
Christopher Wallace is an artist, lithographer and educator based in Cambridge, MA. He received his MFA in printmaking from the University of North Texas in 2013, and his BFA in printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2010. He has held teaching positions at the University... Read More →

Saturday June 2, 2018 10:00am - 10:30am
Texas Ballroom D Marriott Marquis Houston

Attendees (88)