The author and art critic André Mellerio (1862–1943) wrote about the modern artists of his time and tried to capture new movements in art just as they were emerging.
‘Any method or process which an artist develops to express himself is for that very reason legitimate,’ he wrote.
It did not take the critic long to recognise the importance of the print revolution under way among modern artists.
His study La Lithographie originale en couleurs and the articles he wrote for the magazine L’Estampe et l’affiche are essential sources for a good understanding of Paris printmaking.
Colour lithography and modernity
Mellerio made history in 1898 by writing the first overarching study of colour lithography.
He rightly identified the technique as the medium par excellence of modern printmaking, from large, brash posters by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to mysterious, unfathomable little landscapes by the Symbolist Charles-Marie Dulac.
The critic analysed the prints of over forty artists and also offered an insight into the infrastructure of the printmaking world, by discussing the most important printers, publishers and dealers.
L’Estampe et l’affiche
Mellerio was also the editor-in-chief of the journal L’Estampe et l’affiche — a kind of newsletter for the many collectors of prints and posters.
Alongside reviews of the latest productions, it contained articles exploring the different aspects of printmaking.
Fittingly, the deluxe editions of the magazine themselves became collector’s items. They were published in limited editions, accompanied by original graphic work, and printed on fancy types of paper.
Clement-Janin & André Mellerio, L’Estampe et l’affiche (maart 1897-december 1899)
André Mellerio, La Lithographie originale en couleurs, Paris 1898
Phillip Dennis Cate et al., The Color Revolution. Color Lithography in France 1890-1900, Santa Barbara 1970