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The Industrial Revolution
was the major technological, socioeconomic and cultural change in the late 18th and early 19th century that began in Britain and spread throughout the world. During that time, an economy based on manual labour was replaced by one dominated by industry and the manufacture of machinery. It began with the mechanisation of the textile industries and the development of iron-making techniques, and trade expansion was enabled by the introduction of canals, improved roads and then railways. The introduction of steam power (fuelled primarily by coal) and powered machinery (mainly in textile manufacturing) underpinned the dramatic increases in production capacity.[1] The development of all-metal machine tools in the first two decades of the 19th century facilitated the manufacture of more production machines for manufacturing in other industries.

What started it all: James Watt's steam engine

The effects spread throughout Western Europe and North America during the 19th century, eventually affecting most of the world. The impact of this change on society was enormous and is often compared to the Neolithic revolution, when various human subgroups embraced agriculture and in the process, forswore the nomadic lifestyle[4].

The first Industrial Revolution merged into the Second Industrial Revolution around 1850, when technological and economic progress gained momentum with the development of steam-powered ships, railways, and later in the nineteenth century with the internal combustion engine and electrical power generation. At the turn of the century, innovator Henry Ford, father of the assembly line, stated, "There is but one rule for the industrialist, and that is: Make the highest quality goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible."

Breaking the Grid
Printing techniques using movable type had restricted graphic design to an inflexible grid: Anything that was to be mass printed in great volume needed to adhere to a system whereby type was set in consecutive rows of parallel lines. Illustrations, maps and the like were hand drawn and engraved, only allowing for limited, costly editions due to the wearage of the engraving plates. The mass productive milieu of the industrial revolution manifested itself in a unique invention called lithography and this technique was to set type free from the bondage of the compositor.

The term "lithography" dates back to the end of the 18th century, when Alois Senefelder invented the technique of printing with stone plates. This novel method - originally intended for the reproduction of music notation - quickly spread throughout the art world. Munich became the center of this printing technique, which was to be come extraordinarily important for 19th century art and for advertising of the age as well.

Lithographic stones, the lithography press and portrait of Senefelder

Lithography refers to a printing process that uses chemical processes to create an image. For instance, the positive part of an image would be a hydrophobic chemical, while the negative image would be water. Thus, when the plate is introduced to a compatible ink and water mixture, the ink will adhere to the positive image and the water will clean the negative image. This allows for a relatively flat print plate which allows for much longer runs than the older physical methods of imaging (e.g., embossing or engraving).

Within a few years of its invention, the lithographic process was used to create multi-color printed images that held all manner of cropped, embedded and bordered images as well as free running type, a process known by the middle of the 19th century as Chromolithography. A separate stone was used for each colour, and a print went through the press separately for each stone. The main challenge was of course to keep the images aligned (in register). This method lent itself to images consisting of large areas of flat colour, and led to the characteristic poster designs of this period. Many fine works of chromolithographic printing were produced in America and Europe.

Yet another invention which greatly affected visual communication procedures was the invention of photography: This is the process of making pictures by means of the action of light. Light patterns reflected or emitted from objects are recorded onto a sensitive medium or storage chip through a timed exposure. The process is done through mechanical, chemical or digital devices known as cameras. The first photograph was an image produced in 1826 by the French inventor Nicéphore Niépce on a polished pewter plate with a camera. The image required an eight-hour exposure in bright sunshine. In partnership, Niépce and Louis Daguerre refined the existing process. In 1839 Daguerre announced that he had invented a process called the Daguerreotype. William Fox Talbot had earlier discovered another means to fix a silver process image but had kept it secret. After reading about Daguerre's invention Talbot refined his process, so that it might be fast enough to take photographs of people.

Victorian family portraits

The Daguerreotype proved popular in responding to the demand for portraiture emerging from the middle classes during the Industrial Revolution. This demand, that could not be met in volume and in cost by oil painting, added to the push for the development of photography. Daguerreotypes, while beautiful, were fragile and difficult to copy. A single photograph taken in a portrait studio could cost USD $1,000 in 2006 dollars. In 1884 George Eastman developed film, to replace the photographic plate so that a photographer no longer needed to carry boxes of plates and toxic chemicals around. In July of 1888 Eastman's Kodak camera went on the market with the slogan "You press the button, we do the rest". Now anyone could take a photograph and leave the complex parts of the process to others, and photography became available for the mass-market in 1901 with the introduction of Kodak Brownie.

The Victorian era
of Great Britain marked the height of the British industrial revolution and the apex of the British Empire. Victorian morality is a distillation of the moral views of people living at the time of Queen Victoria (reigned 1837-1901) in particular, and to the moral climate of Great Britain throughout the 19th century in general. For most, the Victorian period is still a byword for sexual repression. Victorian prudery sometimes went so far as to deem it improper to say "leg" in mixed company; instead, the preferred euphemism “limb” was used. Those going for a dip in the sea at the beach would use a bathing machine. Verbal or written communication of emotion or sexual feelings was also often proscribed so people instead used the language of flowers. However they also wrote explicit erotica, perhaps the most famous being the racy tell-all My Secret Life by Henry Spencer Ashbee, who wrote under the pseudonym Walter.

Travel to far away places became far more widespread resulting in the emergence of a new commodity called the postcard.

As far fashions and lifestyle elements are concerned, Men's clothing is seen as formal and stiff, women's as fussy and over-done. Clothing covered the entire body, we are told, and even the glimpse of an ankle was scandalous. Critics contend that corsets constricted women's bodies and women's lives. Homes are described as gloomy, dark, cluttered with massive and over-ornate furniture and proliferating bric-a-brac. Myth has it that even piano legs were scandalous, and covered with tiny pantalettes. Of course, much of this is untrue, or a gross exaggeration. Men's formal clothing may have been less colorful than it was in the previous century, but brilliant waistcoats and cummerbunds provided a touch of color, and smoking jackets and dressing gowns were often of rich Oriental brocades. Corsets stressed a woman's sexiness, exaggerating hips and bust by contrast with a tiny waist. Women's ball gowns bared the shoulders and tops of the breasts. The tight-fitting jersey dresses of the 1880s may have covered the body, but they left little to the imagination.

Victoriana refers to items or material from the Victorian period (1837–1901), especially those particularly evocative of the design style and outlook of the time. The word is usually used to refer to printed work or to objects such as machinery, house decoration, or furniture. Victoriana tends to reflect the tastes of the period. Examples in literature might be Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist or Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla, stories which strongly reflect the moral atmosphere of the time. Victoriana strongly reflects two phenomena, one of which is the necessity of catering to the tastes of the nouveaux riché of the era and the other the ability of large masses of the population having aquired the wealth and ability to travel due to the introduction of steam boats and trains. Thus, both exotica and kitsch make a strong appearance in victoriana.

The term is used loosely in referring to any art that is pretentious or in bad taste, and also commercially produced items that are considered trite or crass. Because the word was brought into use as a response to a large amount of art in the 19th century where the aesthetic of art work was confused with a sense of exaggerated sentimentality or melodrama, kitsch is most closely associated with art that is sentimental, mawkish, or maudlin; however, it can be used to refer to any type of art that is deficient for similar reasons—whether it tries to appear sentimental, glamorous, theatrical, or creative, kitsch is said to be a gesture imitative of the superficial appearances of art. It is often said that kitsch relies on merely repeating convention and formula, lacking the sense of creativity and originality displayed in genuine art.

Victorian greeting cards

Victorian die cuts. These were the counterparts of today's stickers, with which people would ornament their diaries and letters. The effects of mass production and hence the neccessity to appeal to a far less sophisticated customer base can clearly be felt in the design of both these and the postcards above.

The Gothic Revival
was an architectural movement which originated in mid-18th century England. In the nineteenth century, increasingly serious and learned neo-Gothic styles sought to revive medieval forms, in distinction to the classical styles which were prevalent at the time. The Gothic Revival was paralleled and supported by medievalism, which had its roots in antiquarian concerns with survivals and curiosities. The movement had significant influence throughout the United Kingdom as well as in Europe and North America, and perhaps more Gothic architecture was built in nineteenth and twentieth centuries than had originally ever been built.
The revived Gothic style was not limited to architecture. By the mid-nineteenth century Gothic traceries and niches could be inexpensively recreated in wallpaper, and gothic blind arcading could decorate a ceramic pitcher. The illustrated catalogue for the Great Exhibition of 1851 is replete with gothic detail, from lacemaking and carpet designs to heavy machinery.

The Arts and Crafts movement
is a major English and American aesthetic movement occurring in the last years of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century. Inspired by the writings of John Ruskin, it was at its height between approximately 1880–1910.
It was a reformist movement that influenced British and American architecture, decorative arts, cabinet making, crafts, and even the "cottage" garden designs of William Robinson or Gertrude Jekyll. Its best-known practitioners were William Morris, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Frank Lloyd Wright, and artists in the Pre-Raphaelite movement. The Arts and Crafts Movement began primarily as a search for authentic and meaningful styles for the 19th century and as a reaction to the eclectic historicism of the Victorian era and to "soulless" machine-made production aided by the Industrial Revolution. Considering the machine to be the root cause of all repetitive and mundane evils, some of the protagonists of this movement turned entirely away from the use of machines and towards handcraft, which tended to concentrate their productions in the hands of sensitive but well-heeled patrons.

Paintings by Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rosetti (1828-1882). In most of them William Morris' wife is the model...

Paintings by Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne Jones (1833-1898).

Yet, while the Arts and Crafts movement was in large part a reaction to industrialization, if looked at on the whole, it was neither anti-industrial nor anti-modern. Some of the European factions believed that machines were in fact necessary, but they should only be used to relieve the tedium of mundane, repetitive tasks. At the same time, some Art & Craft leaders felt that objects should also be affordable. The conflict between quality production and 'demo' design, and the attempt to reconcile the two, dominated design debate at the turn of the last century. The need to reverse the human subservience to the unquenchable machine was a point that everyone agreed on. Yet the extent to which the machine was ostracized from the process was a point of contention debated by many different factions within the Arts and Crafts movement throughout Europe. In order to express the beauty inherent in craft, some products were deliberately left slightly unfinished, resulting in a certain rustic and robust effect. There were also socialist undertones to this movement, in that another primary aim was for craftspeople to derive satisfaction from what they did. This satisfaction, the proponents of this movement felt, was totally denied in the industrialised processes inherent in compartmentalised machine production.

William Morris
(1834 – 1896) was an English artist, writer, socialist activist and pioneer of eco-socialism, one of the principal founders of the British Arts and Crafts movement, best known as a designer of wallpaper and patterned fabrics, a writer of poetry and fiction, and a pioneer of the socialist movement in Britain near London and the Eco-socialist movement of the later twentieth century. He went to school at Marlborough College, but left in 1851 after a student rebellion there. He then went to Oxford University (Exeter College) after studying for his matriculation to the university. He became influenced by John Ruskin there, and met his life-long friends and collaborators, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown and Philip Webb there as well. He also met his wife, Jane Burden, a working-class woman whose pale skin, languid figure, and wavy, abundant dark hair were considered by Morris and his friends the epitome of beauty. These friends formed an artistic movement, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. They eschewed the tawdry industrial manufacture of decorative arts and architecture and favoured a return to hand-craftsmanship, raising artisans to the status of artists. He espoused the philosophy that art should be affordable, hand-made, and that there should be no hierarchy of artistic mediums.

The versatile craft of William Morris

The Kelmscott Press
In January 1891, Morris founded the Kelmscott Press at Hammersmith, London, in order to produce examples of improved printing and book design. He designed clear typefaces, such as his Roman 'golden' type, which was inspired by that of the early Venetian printer Nicolaus Jenson, and medievalizing decorative borders for books that drew their inspiration from the incunabula of the 15th century and their woodcut illustrations. Selection of paper and ink, and concerns for the overall integration of type and decorations on the page made the Kelmscott Press the most famous of the private presses of the Arts and Crafts movement. It operated until 1898, producing 53 volumes, and inspired other private presses, notably the Doves Press.
Among book lovers, the Kelmscott Press edition of The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, illustrated by Burne-Jones, is considered one of the most beautiful books ever produced. A fine edition facsimile of the Kelmscott Chaucer was published in 2002 by The Folio Society.

Book pages printed by the Kelmscott Press

The Glasgow School
The Glasgow School was a circle of influential modern artists and designers who began to coalesce in Glasgow, Scotland in the 1870s, and flourished from the 1890s to sometime around 1910. Glasgow experienced an economic boom at the end of the 19th century, resulting in a burst of distinctive contributions to the Art Nouveau movement, particularly in the fields of architecture, interior design, and painting. Among the most prominent definers of the Glasgow School loose collective were "The Four": acclaimed architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the painter and glass artist Margaret MacDonald (Mackintosh's wife), MacDonald's sister Frances MacDonald, and Herbert MacNair. Cumulatively, The Four defined the Glasgow Style (a syncretistic blend of Celtic and Japanese art), which found favour throughout the modern art world of continental Europe. The Four, otherwise known as the Spook School, ultimately made a great impact on the definition of Art Nouveau.

Posters and sketches by Margaret MacDonald

Children's book illustrations by Margaret MacDonald

Design by architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh

according to Hume, is "the borrowing of a variety of styles from different sources and combining them". Significantly, Eclecticism hardly ever constituted a specific style in art: it is characterized by the fact that it was not a particular style. In general, the term describes the combination in a single work of a variety of influences — mainly of elements from different historical styles in architecture, painting, and the graphic and decorative arts. Eclecticism was an important concept in Western design and architecture during the mid and late 19th century, where oriental and particularly Japanese wood printing was suffused into existent western art traditions, Eclecticism reappeared in a new guise in the latter part of the 20th century. Thus much of postmodern art is characterized by eclecticism.

Japanese woodprints of the 19th century

Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is a style which does not result from European history alone. It is of experimental character, a mixture of baroque, oriental and classical elements, in parts strongly influenced by japanese art, wanting to express the break with traditional forms, on one hand reflecting the spirit of the Belle Epoque and influencing it at the same time. Characteristic for Art Nouveau is the absence of any straight line and any right angle. The lines seem to bend infinitely, the forms swell and contract. It is the nature serving as model: Being a decorative art by origin, the artists preferred ornamental structures imitating flowers and leaves. Most works of the Art Nouveau resemble living organisms. The curved vegetable lines create an impression of lightness and charm. Many artists of the Art Nouveau used these curved forms of vegetation: The most favourite flowers were the lily, the iris and the orchid, but they also used oriental subjects such as palm branches, papyruses, seaweed. Stylistically represented were animals, too, especially insects and birds abounding in colours: dragonflies, peacocks, swallows, swans. Moreover, the artists appreciated the female body as a decorative element, especially with long open hair, flowing in long and soft waves.

Art Nouveau arose at the end of the nineteenth century and persisted until the First World War. It was a reaction against the prevailing practice in architecture and applied arts of using conservative design motifs from Gothic, Baroque, Neo-Classical and other standard historical styles. As a movement, Art Nouveau sought to find a new, modern style that escaped from the formal, rigid past by emphasizing natural, organic forms such as plants and flowers. Generally speaking, earlier works of Art Nouveau tend to be more lush and dramatic, whereas later examples are more likely to be more subtle and stylized. However, the style's manifestations differed dramatically from one European country to another.

Art nouveau package design

Art Nouveau in architecture and crafts.

One of the most prolific and complex centers of turn-of-the-century applied arts is Vienna. There, the artists and architects of the Secession sought to rebel entirely - that is, morally, aesthetically, intellectually and politically - against standard practice in the fine and applied arts. Among the leaders of this group was Gustav Klimt. An influential movement that came out of the Secession was the Vienna Werkstätte, or Vienna Workshop. The workshop was a collaborative effort based on the concept of completely original artistic designs executed in fine materials being mass-manufactured for the public at a very high standard. Implicit in this was the idea that the artist could have an important influence on everyday, practical, functional objects.

Secessionist design, from textiles to glass...

were popularized by the mid-19th-century invention of lithography, which allowed coloured posters to be produced cheaply and easily. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was noted for his poster art, which often advertised Parisian cabaret performers. Poster art flourished with the rise of the Art Nouveau style, as seen in the work of Alphonse Mucha.

Art nouveau posters. First two are by Secessionist designer and artist Koloman Moser

Alfons Mucha
(1860 - 1939) After study in Prague, Munich, and Paris, he became the principal designer of posters advertising the stage appearances of Sarah Bernhardt; he designed sets and costumes for her as well. His many opulent posters and magazine illustrations made him one of the foremost designers in the Art Nouveau style. In 1922, after Czechoslovakia had become independent, he settled in Prague and designed the new republic's stamps and banknotes.

Alphonse Mucha: designs and posters

Postcards designed by Alphonse Mucha

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
(1864 - 1901) Born to an old aristocratic family, he developed his interest in art during lengthy convalescence after both his legs were fractured in separate accidents (1878, 1879) that left them permanently stunted and made walking difficult. In 1881 he resolved to become an artist; after taking instruction, he established a studio in the Montmartre district of Paris in 1884 and began his lifelong association with the area's cafés, cabarets, entertainers, and artists. He captured the effect of the movement of dancers, circus performers, and other entertainers by simplifying outlines and juxtaposing intense colours; the result was an art throbbing with life and energy. His lithographs were among his most powerful works, and his memorable posters helped define the possibilities of the genre. His pieces are often sharply satirical, but he was also capable of great sympathy, seen most poignantly in his studies of prostitutes (e.g., At the Salon, 1896). His extraordinary style helped set the course of avant-garde art for decades to come. A heavy drinker, he died at 36.

The posters of Henri de Toulouse Lautrec