The Photographic Industry: Historical Background

Early European Block Printing

Woodblock printing was the first sort of printing to take place in Europe. Fabric printing and the production of transient items like playing cards both used block printing. Despite the early usage of block printing, there is only shaky evidence that books were printed with blocks before the printing press was discovered (Werner). The earliest ‘block books,’ also known as ‘Pauper’s bibles,’ were elaborately illustrated shortened versions of the Bible. Originally popular in the 1460s, block books began to fade in favor. Therefore, this essay will describe the development of early European Block Printing and provide the used machines.

The development of typography is widely regarded as one of the most significant achievements in human history, right up there with the invention of writing. Writing provided humans with a means of storing, retrieving, and documenting knowledge and information independent of both time and location, as discussed in preceding chapters (Werner). Typographic printing, which involved printing with moveable type, enabled the economic advancement and multiple creations of alphabetic communication. This led to the rapid dissemination of knowledge and increased literacy rates.

The first examples of block printing, in which the image and the writing were cut from the same block of wood, were devotional images of saints and playing cards. These helped the general populace become familiar with the concept of symbols and sequencing, and logical deduction (Werner). These single-surface prints eventually evolved into block books, which are picture books made of woodcuts that feature religious themes and brief passages of text. Some examples are provided, as well as explanations of the tools, materials, and processes involved in printing block books.

In conclusion, in Europe, woodblock printing was the first printing method. Block printing was used in the printing of textiles as well as the creation of short-lived goods like playing cards. With the invention of writing, typography is often regarded as one of humanity’s most significant achievements. Humans were able to use writing to store, retrieve, and document knowledge and information independent of both time and location. Images of saints and playing cards were the first examples of block printing, in which the image and the writing were cut from the same block of wood.

Romanesque and Gothic Manuscripts

Between 401AD and 1500AD, a variety of architectural styles were established in the construction of buildings. The Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles were popular during this period because they were used by many architects (Rudolph 2). Many Romanesque structures were built around an arch that the Romans inspired, serving as a central feature in their designs. Gothic architecture arose in France around 1140AD as the development of Romanesque architecture. This essay will outline the differences and similarities between the two styles and give explain the strength and durability of these styles.

Romanesque and Gothic architectural designs have many similarities. There are numerous stylistic parallels between these two works. A good illustration of this is that the Gothic architectural style continues to improve on the Romanesque in that it incorporates elements of the Romanesque that were lacking. In addition, the Romanesque style’s rounded arch was replaced by the pointed arch, which was more effective (Rudolph 10). It is also worth noting that churches and cathedrals primarily utilized both designs throughout that period. Several churches in France and Italy, including St. Sernin, St. Michel, and the Cathedral of Pisa, were built in the Romanesque style. Westminster Abbey, St. Peter’s in Rome, Notre Dame Cathedral and Chartres Cathedral are all examples of Gothic architecture.

The two architectural ideas differed significantly regarding building solid and long-lived structures. Like those found in Gloucester Cathedral, semi-circular arches were common in Romanesque architecture (Rudolph 17). These arches supported the whole structure, which remained well-modulated and geometrically rational. During construction, a massive arcade on the ground floor was necessary to house the towering arches. In contrast to Romanesque architecture, Gothic structures made use of a more reliable kind of arches.

In conclusion, throughout Romanesque and Gothic architecture, the goal was to improve the methods used in the past. New and crucial characteristics were created due to the designs, which have influenced current architectural styles as well. The pointed arch, vaults, and flying buttresses, among other innovations made possible by Gothic architecture, let succeeding generations of architects create stronger structures. The parallels and variations between the two designs show that Gothic architecture remained more effective and trustworthy and contributed to the development of architectural knowledge in the following age.

The Inventors of Photography

The term “photography” originates from the Greek terms “photos,” which means “light,” and “graphein,” which means “to sketch.” In the year 1839, John F.W. Herschel was the first person to use this word. It is a technique for capturing images utilizing the activity of light or other forms of radiation on a substance that is susceptible to such action. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, and William Henry Fox Talbot are generally credited as being the first people to discover Photography (Green-Lewis). The invention of Photography was a collaborative effort, with significant input coming from all three of these guys. Each of them made a significant contribution to the field.

A French inventor, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, is credited with creating the first-ever long-lasting photograph. Pyréolophore was the world’s first internal combustion engine that successfully drove a boat upstream, invented by him and his brother Claude. Niépce, on the other hand, has a reputation for producing works of art. Lithography piqued his interest as a means of automating the replication of art. He investigated new methods of transferring images to a printing plate utilizing light-sensitive materials (Green-Lewis). Using a solvent to dissolve the bitumen of Judea and an apewter plate, Niépce invented the heliography process. When exposed to light, bitumen turns into a solid and loses its solubility.

An eight-hour photo exposure is a lengthy period, given how quickly our cameras take photographs today. Despite its flaws, the photograph was a success. Six of Niépce’s plates accompanied him on his brother’s tour to England. A chance for him to impress King George IV and the Royal Society presented itself. The opportunity never came, and he opted to return home. Franz Bauer, an Australian illustrator fellow of the Royal Society, took care of his plates. Later in life, Niépce struggled with personal problems that negatively impacted his artistic output (Green-Lewis). After being persuaded by the photographer, he agreed to a ten-year contract with Daguerre. However, Niépce died of a heart attack, and the story ended suddenly. In the public announcement of the daguerreotype, Niépce received no credit whatsoever.

Typeface Design in the first half of the Twentieth Century

The typeface designed by Jenson was the first to be produced using typographic principles as its foundation rather than text models. His Roman type served as the foundation for several contemporary fonts, such as Centaur, which Bruce Rogers designed in 1914, and Adobe Jenson, which Robert Slimbach created in 1996. While Jenson’s Roman type saved space on the printed page, others sought to save even more space on the printed page to improve the productivity of book printing (Bigelow 162). In 1501, Aldus Manutius and Francesco Griffo invented the first italic typeface, which made it possible to put even more text onto each page. Even though they were initially developed to conserve space, italics are now most commonly used to accentuate text.

Outside of the majority of society at the time, only a select few people were able to see and understand the exploratory work being done toward a new method of graphic design. Although many of the creative innovations in graphic design throughout the first decades of the twentieth century took place as part of the modern art movements and the Bauhaus, the Bauhaus was primarily responsible for the majority of these creative innovations in graphic design. (Bigelow 167). His goal was to create a functional design using the simplest techniques possible. He said that the purpose of any typographic work should be to convey a message most quickly and effectively possible. His mission was to achieve functional design by the simplest means.

Beginning with Gutenberg’s printing press and continuing through digital typography developments made by designers in the 20th and 21st centuries, the availability of technology throughout the centuries has significantly impacted the development of typefaces (Bigelow 172). Blackletter typefaces were the first ones used for printing, mainly because they could replicate the standard form of handwriting during that era. However, as was just discussed, the drawback was that they required a significant amount of space on the page.

Pictorial Modernism

Art is generally a source of tranquility and beauty, but it can also be a source of aggravation because of the difficulties it brings into people’s lives. Intellectual art, such as painting with words and material readily available for people to read, is the source of this type of art. The work of art is classified into periods based on when it was first used in Photography (Peters 170). Pictorialism and contemporary art are two subcategories Each type’s history, as well as its key similarities and differences, can be gleaned from this essay.

Pictorialism photography emphasizes beauty, composition, and tone rather than real-world documentation. ‘Pictorialism’ Beginning in the 1860s, the perspective remained popular well into the twentieth century. It was becoming closer to the camera, which they used as a tool to express themselves artistically, much like the chisel and paintbrush (Peters 171). Photographs can have aesthetic value and connections to other art forms worldwide due to this. The pictorialists were among the first to consider Photography’s artistic potential. They tried to inject a personal touch into a hitherto sterile and unromantic shooting mode.

International modernism began in the early twentieth century and sought a new way of integrating the values and experiences of the industrial age. To better reflect modern society’s hopes and realities, artists from around the world in the late 19th century used new materials, techniques, and imagery (Peters 171). Modernist art is characterized by rejecting tradition and historical values, experimentation and creativity with form (colors, shapes, and lines), and a focus on methods, techniques, and materials as its underlying principles.

In conclusion, it can be said that the photographic industry has grown and changed at a breakneck pace. There is an interaction with high-resolution paintings, 3D animations, and videos. The goal of artists throughout history has been to make their work visually appealing to the general public. Postmodernism, which does not adhere to a predetermined method of painting, allows painters to experiment with a wide range of styles and colors in their work.

Works Cited

Bigelow, Charles. “Typeface Features and Legibility Research.” Vision Research, vol. 165, no. 2, 2019, pp. 162-172.

Green-Lewis, Jennifer. Victorian Photography, Literature, and the Invention of Modern Memory: Already the Past. Routledge, 2020.

Peters, Julia. “Robert B. Pippin After the Beautiful: Hegel and the Philosophy of Pictorial Modernism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. vol. 39, no. 1, 2018, pp. 169-173.

Rudolph, Conrad. “Introduction: A Sense of Loss: An Overview of the Historiography of Romanesque and Gothic Art.” A Companion to Medieval Art: Romanesque and Gothic in Northern Europe, 2019, pp. 1-43.

Werner, Sarah. Studying Early Printed Books, 1450-1800: A Practical Guide. John Wiley & Sons, 2019.