Printing Colour: Renaissance Germany/Victorian Britain

Speakers: Dr Elizabeth Savage and Dr Kirsty Sinclair Dootson

Elizabeth Savage: Early Colour Printing: German Renaissance Woodcuts 

Colour printing techniques transformed how printed material could be used during the technological and cultural revolutions of the sixteenth century. Later designers and artists around Europe celebrated these techniques’ heritage for centuries, from the ‘Dürer Renaissance’ until chromolithography revolutionised the print market in the nineteenth century. Elizabeth Savage will detail the story of the beginnings of colour printing in Germany through the unrivalled collection of the British Museum, whose rich holdings include many previously unidentified examples of early modern colour-printing, some believed to be unique in the world.

Kirsty Sinclair Dootson:The Complexion of the Chromolithograph: Colouring Skin in Victorian Print Advertising 

In her talk, Kirsty Dootson will explore how chromolithography changed the way racial difference materialised in print in Britain through depictions of skin in late nineteenth-century advertisements. Chromolithography was the first affordable technology for mass-producing coloured images, transforming the realm of print advertising. It was widely used to promote imperial goods resulting from the intensified colonial exploitation of Africa from the 1880s. Colour enhanced the visual appeal of these products, but also gave printers an expanded palette for exploiting racial difference as part of these advertising campaigns. The addition of colour to a formerly monochrome medium raised questions about the relationship between skin colour and British racial identity. How was it possible to render ‘white’ skin in a variety of hues without it becoming, in the racist terminology of the time, ‘coloured’? Furthermore, when chromolithography lent a distinctive surface pattern, or complexion, to prints, how did these spotted colours intersect with ideas of cleanliness, class, labour, and beauty?

Dr Elizabeth Savage is Senior Lecturer in Book History and Communications at the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, and Honourary Fellow at the Centre for the Study of the Book, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford University. She is co-founder and co-director of the Book and Print Initiative, School of Advanced Study. She co-founded and directed the Printing Colour Project, 2009–2018. 

Her latest book is Early Colour Printing: German Renaissance Woodcuts at the British Museum (2021).  

Dr Kirsty Sinclair Dootson is Lecturer at the University of St Andrews; she received her PhD in Film and Media Studies with History of Art from Yale University in 2018. Dr Dootson’s current book project asks how new ways of making colour profoundly transformed the meaning of colour in modern Britain. Exploring a range of chromatic technologies from the 1850s to the 1960s, the book considers both the material mass production of colour in the form of paints, inks and dyes, as well as chromatic mass media including printing, photography, film and television.  

Organised by Dr Ketty Gottardo (The Courtauld), Dr Esther Chadwick (The Courtauld) and Dr Olenka Horbatsch (The British Museum). 

5:00pm, 7 Dec 2021

Tuesday 7th December, 5pm - 7pm GMT

Free, booking essential

Registration closes 30 minutes before the event start time. If you do not receive log in details on the day of the event, please contact researchforum@courtauld.ac.uk 

Tags: 

Research

Series: 

Graphic Arts Group

Citations