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.
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.
it all: James Watt's steam engine
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.
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."
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
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
Victorian family portraits
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.
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
Travel to far away places became far more widespread resulting in
the emergence of a new commodity called the postcard.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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
(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
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 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 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.
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.
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,
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
(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
(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