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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. 

avatar for Christina Taylor

Christina Taylor

Conservator of Works of Art on Paper, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Christina Taylor is the Conservator of Works of Art on Paper at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She is a graduate of Buffalo State College Art Conservation Program, where she earned her MA and CAS in Art Conservation in 2015. She has held conservation positions at the Harvard Art... Read More →


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, where she has worked since 2004. Prior to this, she worked as an analytical scientist at the National Museums of Scotland. Kathy specializes in the... Read More →
avatar for Georgina M. Rayner

Georgina M. Rayner

Associate Conservation Scienctist, Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies
Georgina Rayner is the Associate Conservation Scientist at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Harvard Art Museums. Prior to this role Georgina was the Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Conservation Science at the same institution. Georgina holds a Masters... Read More →

Christopher Wallace

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 MDT
Texas Ballroom D Marriott Marquis Houston
  6. Specialty Session, Book and Paper