Art Styles in the Industrial 19th Century


Art, Technology, & Industry


(Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map)


Arthur Mackmurdo

see collections:

Walter Crane

Paul Gavarni

Gustave Dore

As the 19th century progressed, so did methods for reproducing
images using various photographic techniques and new printing
systems. A vast number of copies of any publication could now be
made available and the dissemination of ideas, styles,
and tastes widened and quickened.



The Industrial Revolution, which had started in England and spread to Germany and much of the rest of Europe during the 19th century, brought new developments in the manufacture of everyday, utilitarian objects and in the field of artistic endeavour. The changing face of society also exerted an influence, with the rise of a dynamic and entrepreneurial middle class set to replace the vanished patronage of the church and aristocracy. Rapid advances in technology and new machine tools were essential to the manufacture of consumer goods and massproduced objects. Henry Cole (1808-82). one of the organizers of the Great Exhibition of 1851, was among the first to appreciate the necessity of forging close links between art and industry. He was instrumental in ensuring that the exhibits, which came from all over Europe, the East, and the US, included manufactured products that were fine examples of art and design. The innovations in industry also led to the development of photography. For the first time, visible reality could be capttired and reproduced, so that a moment in time could be frozen forever.


Charles Robert Ashbee,
Silver Bowl, Guild of Handicraft,
Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

 Here decoration and industrial design are harmoniously combined


The Arts and Crafts Movement and the Origins of Design

The English writer, artist, and social reformer William Morris (1834-96) believed that it was the duty of the new industrial society to develop a fresh, far-reaching aesthetic sense and to be mindful of the value of cultivating the decorative arts. Writing in The Arts and Crafts of Today, published in 1889. Morris maintained that if art were not applied to everyday objects, products would not only have no meaning, but there would also be a gradual deterioration of the human race if life became purely material and spiritually empty. The effects of the aesthetic measures advocated by Morris would lead to the re-evaluation of the decorative arts as an inescapable part of a person's environment. It would also lead to an awareness of design in the manufacture of household goods for a vast number of consumers. With Morris at its head, the
Arts and Crafts Movement was at the vanguard of stressing the importance of aesthetic awareness in the machine age. Morris's cultural aims were also espoused by the other members of the group. The English architect and designer Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942), who founded the Guild and School of Handicrafts in London in 1888, maintained that constructive and decorative arts were the true backbone of every artistic culture. Meanwhile, the designer and illustrator Walter Crane (1845-1915), author of the didactic collection Lines and Outlines (1875). asserted that crafts were the true origins and bases of all the arts. Arthur Mackmurdo (1851-1942), a Scottish architect and designer based in England, initiated the Century Guild and, in 1884, founded the movement's journal Hobby Horse. In his conception of design, particularly graphic printing. Mackmurdo anticipated the style of the Art Nouveau movement. The expansion of new and faster forms of transport (notably, the advent of the railways and faster, powered sea travel) led to a boom in international trade, which industrialized production was able to satisfy, and which the international exhibitions did much to promote. It was at this juncture that the earliest signs of functional aestheticism could be detected in industrial production. This was to prove highly influential during the 20th century, especially in Austria and Germany through the ideas expounded by the Werkbund and Bauhaus movements. The processing techniques of traditional and new materials were updated in order to achieve a simplification of objects intended for evervdav use.
The evolution of the forms of such objects was linked to the perfection of mechanical processes, which also took into account the cost of the finished article. In 1892, the designer Lewis Day (1845-1910) wrote that whether people liked it or not, machinery and steam and electrical power might well have some part to play in the decorative arts of the future.


Walter Crane
Swans, rush and Irises
Polychrome tile
Flowers and animals were the most common decorative elements of this period



Arthur Mackmurdo

(b London, 12 Dec 1851; d Wickham Bishops, Essex, 15 March 1942).

English architect and social reformer. He was an important figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement. He trained as an architect first with T. Chatfield Clarke (1825–95) and then with the Gothic Revivalist James Brooks. He was greatly influenced by John Ruskin (they travelled to Italy together in 1874), particularly on social and economic issues. Mackmurdo believed that his work should be socially as well as artistically significant. In design he valued tradition but sought a contemporary relevance, and he promoted the unity of the arts, with architecture as the central discipline. By 1884 he had moved away from the Gothic Revival style and adopted an eclectic use of Renaissance sources. Some of his designs have been described as proto-Art Nouveau and are thought to have influenced the emergence of this style in architecture and the applied arts in Britain and Europe in the 1890s and 1900s. His pattern designs for wallpaper and textiles incorporated swirling organic motifs (e.g. Cromer Bird, cretonne, c. 1884), while for three-dimensional and architectural work he often used a simplified version of classicism derived from English 18th-century sources. Brooklyn, a small, flat-roofed house (c. 1886; Private Road, Enfield, London), was designed in an austere and simple rationalized classical style in which the logic of constructional methods was emphasized in a way that heralds the work of architects such as C. F. A. Voysey.

Arthur H. Mackmurdo
Wren's City Churches


Arthur H. Mackmurdo
Title page to The Hobby Horse
This was the journal of the Century Guild, founded by Mackmurdo in 1884


Gottlieb August Pohle,
drawing for an adjustable writing desk,
Osterreichisches Museum fur angewandte Kunst, Vienna






see also collections:

The Pre-Raphaelites -

Stained Glass Windows


William Morris - designer




In his numerous writings on the relationship between art and the new society, William Morris stated his case as a supporter of the expansion of the applied arts by exploiting some of the new techniques originally introduced for industrial production. Morris maintained that it was important to dispense with the arbitrary distinctions between "fine arts" and "useful arts", which had been accepted in the Romantic period, and to recapture the link between visual expression and the use of suitable materials and skills that had been present in the Gothic and Renaissance eras. In 1861 Morris founded Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., which specialized in decorative work. Among the partners in the company were the Pre-Raphaelites Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and the architect Philip Webb. Morris is best known for the chintzes and wallpapers that he designed between 1872 and 1896. They were instantly recognizable for their intertwined floral motifs, vine shoots, and leaves arranged in diagonal and scrolled patterns. According to the scholar Peter Floud, composition of the elements in Morris's designs can be classified into four distinct phases: free arrangement of various types of flowers (1872—76); symmetrical repetition along vertical axes (1876-83); motifs arranged along continuous diagonals (1883-90); and the alternation of scrolled naturalistic detail on dark backgrounds (1890-96). The exhibitions, organized from 1888 onwards by the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, promoted a design philosophy that reinterpreted the world of useful, everyday objects (furniture, materials, rugs, and other household furnishings). In 1890, Morris founded the Kelmscott Press at Hammersmith, extending his ideas to typography by adapting historical models for his typefaces (Golden, Troy, and Chaucer) and for his decorative initials and borders.


William Morris,
green dining room interior, commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.




Max Klinger

Art and Printing Techniques

During the 19th century, changes in printing technology had a great influence on publications linked with the arts, including engraving, etching, lithography and chromolithography, reproductions of works of art, and illustrated guides to ornamentation and costume. A variety of materials reflected these advances: books, magazines, periodicals, catalogues, and advertising  posters, mostly intended for mass consumption. The process of lithography had been invented by Aloys Senefelder in 1798, when he succeeded in transferring onto paper an image that he had drawn in greasy ink on a special kind of limestone. Francisco Goya (1746-1828) was attracted by the immediacy of the effect produced by lithography and was among the first artists to make use of it. In 1819, in Madrid, he created his first lithograph of an old woman spinning, entitled La riefa hilanclera, followed, during his years in Bordeaux (1824-28), by some large lithographs of bullfighting scenes - Los tows de Bunleos. Many 19th-century artists followed in Goya's footsteps and experimented with the expressive possibilities of the new medium of lithography. Among them were Theodore Gericault with his Chevaux dans leurs ecuries (1819) and his 13 English lithographs (1821); Eugene Delacroix with his Hamlet collection (1834-43): Edouard Manet with his famous Les Courses (1864) and Rendezvous de chats (1868); and Auguste Renoir with Mile Dieterle (1892). From 1885 onwards, Toulouse-Lautrec produced over 300 lithographs; Pierre Bonnard created lithographs for book illustrations, as well as his famous Femme au Parapluie (1896); and Edouard Vuilliard produced a collection of lithographs entitled Paysages et interieurs (1899). Other artists to work in this medium included Paul Cezanne, Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas, and Paul Gauguin. The new lithographic technique did not prevent continued interest and improvement in older graphic-techniques, such as etching, which had been practised by artists since the early 16th century. In 1765, designer and book illustrator Jean Baptiste Le Prince invented the aquatint - repeated etchings over a porous ground that produce a wide range of tonal effects.
Artists exploited and promoted significant advances in these graphic techniques, and this led to the development of a branch of publishing specializing in illustrated books of exceptional quality. They often took the form of special editions of highly prized literary works, republished with the creative contributions of artists whose aim was to translate the writer's expressiveness into rich and immediate images. Examples include William Blake's illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy (1824- 27); Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations for Oscar Wilde's Salome (1894); Max Klinger's illustrations for Brahms's works, in which the musical score is introduced into the field of iconographic representation; and the series of illustrations by Odilon Redon, produced in three versions, for Gustave Flaubert's La Tentation de Saint Antoine (1874). Gustave Dore (1832-83), the most outstanding of the great 19th-century illustrators, brought to life the imaginary world evoked by the great European literary masterpieces, such as Cervantes's Don Quixote (1862) and Perrault's fairy tales (1862). The many advances in printing techniques and the simplified insertion of illustrations into books meant that there was a huge increase in the number of illustrated books, children's titles, and themed collections of prints devoted to particular subjects. New developments revived the ancient craft of silk-screen printing, in which silk or another suitable fabric was "painted" with the design to be stencilled and stretched on a rigid frame; successive stencils each marked out areas of different colours. In its updated form, this technique was widely used in industry and by artists.


William Blake
The Twenty-four Elders Place Their Crown Before the Throne of God
Tate Gallery, London.

The prints of Blake's illustrations were to influence and inspire the work
of many "visionary" 19th-century painters.






Printed notices to inform the public of political events, legal matters, judicial sentences, plays, concerts, and entertainments had been a feature of city life for centuries. During the 19th century, a great many technological innovations combined to create a success story: the advertising poster. The introduction of new printing procedures, such as lithography (1798), and the improved forms of presses used in the 1830s were particularly important.
Following the earliest chromo-lithographic experiments in black and white, the French artist Jules Cheret (1836-1932) perfected the use and effectiveness of the process, printing large numbers of polychrome posters from 1866 onwards. Cheret's pictures were often constructed around a central nucleus, with the internal dynamism of the composition emphasized by effective combinations of colours.
Large publicity posters had a very strong pictorial attraction and minimal but bold lettering. Among the artists who experimented with this new method of graphic reproduction was Eugene Grasset (1841-1917), whose designs had fluid outlines, that resembled his stained glass. Meanwhile, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) concentrated his efforts, especially from 1891 onwards, on finding a new language for the poster. In his most famous posters (the Moulin Rouge, Divan Japonais, and Aristide Bruant of 1893), the attention of the observer is captured by the boldness of the picture, the clear outlines of the figures, the warmth and brightness of the flat-toned colours, and the contrast between black and paler colours or white, Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) was another celebrated and prolific poster artist, who createc his first poster design in 1892. In contrast with Toulouse-Lautrec, he was able to achieve an unusual harmony between his linear drawings and decorative patterns. His female figures, often taken from posed photographs, are surrounded by frames and borders of intertwined Hispano-Moorish motifs and by materials reminiscent of Japanese woodcuts.


John Parry
A Bill-poster's Fantasy



Eugene Grasset
Salon des Cent, poster




Ramon Casas,
Anis del Mono
chromo-lithograph, 1898.

 This colourful advertisement for a Spanish liqueur employed the new printing technologies of the day.


The introduction of colours in the lithographic process, known as chromolithography, came about in 1837. This meant that colour printing could now be applied to large surfaces. Once this new process had been perfected, a new type of advertising picture, the poster, was launched with resounding success. The newly discovered means of image reproduction - lithography, chromolithography and, subsequently, photography - can most certainly be considered the forerunners of modern advertising methods. The poster, one of the 19th century's most widely and frequently used publicity tools, was fully able to satisfy the need for mass communication. It invited the observer's perceptual and emotional involvement, which was often intensified by the repeated use of the same message all over towns or cities.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, developments in printing and engraving technology had meant that the Western world's figurative culture could be disseminated throughout Europe. In the 19th century, colour reproductions of paintings, townscapes and cityscapes, and photographs of particularly attractive subjects proved very popular. Another popular Victorian product was the oleograph, produced by coating a lithographed print with a pigmented oily varnish. When dry, it was processed with an embossing roller in order to imitate the visual effect of an oil painting's canvas.



The Graphic Arts

Printing and publishing underwent tremendous changes during the 19th century. Advances in typographical technology and distribution systems, as well as a general reduction in costs, meant that nearly all printed matter was now within the reach of the general public. Nicolas-Louis Robert had made a significant contribution to this progress when he introduced the first machine for the "mechanical" production of paper in 1798. Another invention developed commercially at the beginning of the 19th century was stereotyping. A mould was made by pouring plaster of Paris over a page of type and leaving it to set; molten metal could then be poured over the face of the mould in a casting box. Further development of this technique led to papier mache being substituted for plaster to form the matrix, or ''mat". The most revolutionary innovation, however, came in the form of Friedrich Koenig's steam-powered printing machine of 1811 and its successors. On the old hand-operated press, the maximum production was 300 copies an hour, but with the new equipment this could easily be increased to 1,000. Printing became even faster in 1828 with the introduction of the sophisticated four-cylinder press, developed by Augustus Applegath and Edward Cowper, which could print 4.000 copies an hour. Printing presses were not alone in benefiting from new technology. Even bookbinding was increasingly mechanized, and in the 1830s the first books with separate cloth-covered cases blocked in gold appeared. The sewn book could now be trimmed using another newly introduced device, the guillotine. The ensuing increase in printed matter prompted Friedrich Gottlob Keller to invent a machine for grinding wood pulp for making paper. This was to the great economic advantage of publishers of newspapers, catalogues, and other publications with large print runs.
Despite the continual modernization of mechanical processes and raw materials for printing - vital for the growth of publishing and the spread of information in Europe and the US - one problem remained unsolved in the mid-19th century. This was the most crucial phase of the printing procedure: composing text. The first truly reliable composing machines were built in 1866 (Robert Hattersley's machine) and in 1869 (Charles Kastenbein's system). Although these machines brought type together, the time-consuming work of adjusting the line length still had to be done by hand. Only when Ottmar Mergenthaler's Linotype machines came into use (they were first installed at the New York Tribune in 1886). followed by Tolbert Lanston's Monotype machines, did the composition of text and line justification finally become automatic processes.

Rotary printing, cutting and stacking machine engraving, 1866, United States.

The introduction of automation was instrumental in reducing costs.





Penny Black and Two-pence Blue, 1840.
Postage stamps were introduced in England following Rowland Hill's reform of the postal service.


Illustrated Magazines

The creation of a modern publishing industry moved a step nearer with the introduction of printed illustrations.
The leading daily newspapers had provided pictures for their readers since 1840, when the daguerreotype process came into use. In the early days, periodicals like the Illustrated London News or Illustration made use of the services of teams of sketchers, who were sent with journalists to create illustrations for news stories. Among the most successful caricatures and cartoons were those by Honore Daumier, Gustave Dore, and Gavarni for La Caricature (1830-34) and Le Charivari (1832-1926), satirical reviews that were imitated all over Europe. Daumier's prolific output of drawings, satirizing contemporary fashions and the political and social scene, were outstandingly effective. The task of faithfully reproducing such drawings and using engraving techniques to prepare the wooden blocks for printing was entrusted to a team of engravers on the permanent staff of the newspapers' headquarters. Towards the end of the century, with the advent of collodion (a colourless liquid of pyroxylin in ether and alcohol), glass plates were used in cameras, so the engraving could be carried out directly from the original with a great saving in time. In 1850, Hippolyte Fizeau first experimented with etching a plate with a daguerreotype for printing. Better results, however, were obtained with the so-called "flat-bed" processes, which were used in the following years by Rose-Joseph Lemercier and Alphonse Poitevin to reproduce photographs with typographical inks. The Woodburytype was patented by Walter Bentley Woodbury in 1864 for reproduction by the photoglyptic method, and although the resulting images were exceptionally clear and faithful to the originals, inking was a manual process that proved far too laborious and time-consuming for newspapers and periodicals. Quality printing on such surfaces as newsprint could be achieved only by using relief plates; Firmin Gillot, Charles Negre, and Edouard Baldus all came to this conclusion between 1853 and 1856.
Among the photo-mechanical printing processes, screen printing of images proved particularly important. This was first introduced in 1870 by William Leggo and was followed in 1878 by the introduction of similigravure, a halftone printing technique developed by Charles Guillaume Petit. The first example of reproduction of photographs in newspapers dates
from when Georg Meisenbach put to use the process he had developed and patented under the name of autotype. Further advances in the halftone printing of photographs had to wait until improved forms of screen were introduced. After 1880 a large number of illustrated periodicals were published, especially in the UK, Germany, France, and the US. The various titles were aimed at a vast readership, and publications that aimed mainly to inform and educate were soon joined by specialized periodicals exploiting the communicative power of photographic images. The introduction of the postage stamp gave rise to a great deal of research into graphic techniques, including gravure and letter-press. The first stamps were issued in England in 1840. starting with the penny black and two-pence blue series, designed by H. Corbould and printed by C. & F. Heath. Both showed Queen Victoria's head.


Honore Daumier
Nadar elevant la photographie a la hauteur de l'art

Lithograph from Souvenirs d'Artistes,
appearing in Le Boulevard,
May 25, 1863.


Gustavo Dore
Hosannah! Voici les Osanores!

The great French draughtsman and engraver was more celebrated for his classic book illustrations
(such as those for the works of Rabelais, Perrault, Balzac, Cervantes, Dante, and Ariosto)
than for his humorous prints of social criticism.

see collections:

Walter Crane

Paul Gavarni

Gustave Dore



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