Exhibition Galleries and William N. Deramus III Cosmology TheaterMonday - Friday: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Second Saturday of each month: 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Parking: Free for Library visitors
Saturday openings for 2013:
Reference, research, and circulation services are not available on Second Saturdays.
Crayon on Stone: Science Embraces the Lithograph, 1800-1899March 28, 2013 - September 14, 2013
Curator: Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr.
Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor of History, University of Missouri, Kansas City
Around 1800, Alois Senefelder introduced a new printing technique called lithography. He printed from a polished block of limestone, instead of a copper plate or a wood block, and the resulting lithograph provided a new warmth and expressiveness that was difficult to achieve with an engraved plate or a woodcut. Science took to the new technique very quickly.
By 1830, Elizabeth Gould was making lithographs of birds for her husband John, John Richardson was publishing lithographs of Arctic animals discovered during the search for the Northwest passage, and Beer and Mädler were revealing new features of the moon in their large lithographed lunar map.
One of the greatest applications of lithography to scientific illustration was the portrayal of fossils. A fossil in its stony matrix is very difficult to reproduce with an engraving or a woodcut. But with lithography, one can use a crayon to perfectly duplicate the texture and appearance of stone. It is not surprising that when the first Compsognathus (a small dinosaur) skeleton was discovered in 1859, and the first Archetopteryx skeleton (the "first bird") in 1861, both were announced to the world in publications illustrated by large lithographs. The irony is that both fossils were found in the limestone quarries of Solnhofen, Bavaria, which also is the source of the world's finest lithographic stone. So in the end, we have limestone captured on limestone, a truly divine marriage.
By the middle of the century we find chromolithographs printed in several colors, and by the end of the century, we find 14-stone lithographs illustrating books of birds and butterflies. It was even possible to photograph directly onto a lithograph stone, and the resulting photolithograph has the realism of a photograph, but the durability and reproducibility of a lithograph.
This exhibit will display eighty years of scientific lithography, from the very first ever printed (we have the first American scientific book with lithographs in the Library's collections) to the end of the century. Many of the most stunning scientific illustrations ever printed are lithographs, and we wish to include as many as we can, to create what should be a visually stunning exhibition.
This exhibition is made possible through generous support from the Linda Hall Library Annual Fund.