CONFERENCE (10-12 April 2018): PRINTING COLOUR 1700-1830: Discoveries, Rediscoveries and Innovations in the Long Eighteenth Century


Conference: 10-11 April 2018 (Senate House, London)

Private views: 12 April 2018 (British Library, British Museum, Courtauld Institute of Art, Rob Dixon, Senate House Library, Roger Smith, St Bride Library, University of Reading, V&A, Wellcome Collection)


Keynotes: Margaret Morgan Graselli (National Gallery of Art) and Martin Andews (Reading)

Convenors: Elizabeth Savage (Institute of English Studies) and Ad Stijnman (Leiden University)

Assistants: Gemma Cornetti (Warburg Institute) and Marianne Yule (British Museum)

Eighteenth-century book and print cultures are considered to be black and white (with a little red). Colour-printed material, like William Blake's visionary books and French decorative art, is considered rare and exceptional. However, recent discoveries in archives, libraries and museums are revealing that bright inks were not extraordinary. Artistic and commercial possibilities were transformed between rapid technical advances around 1700 (when Johannes Teyler and Jacob Christoff Le Blon invented new colour printing techniques) and 1830 (when the Industrial Revolution mechanised printing and chromolithography was patented). These innovations added commercial value and didactic meaning to material including advertising, books, brocade paper, cartography, decorative art, fashion, fine art, illustrations, medicine, trade cards, scientific imagery, texts, textiles and wallpaper.

The saturation of some markets with colour may have contributed to the conclusion that only black-and-white was suitable for fine books and artistic prints. As a result, this printed colour has been traditionally recorded only for well-known ‘rarities’. The rest remains largely invisible to scholarship. Thus, some producers are known as elite ‘artists’ in one field but prolific ‘mere illustrators’ in another, and antecedents of celebrated ‘experiments’ and ‘inventions’ are rarely acknowledged. When these artworks, books, domestic objects and ephemera are considered together, alongside the materials and techniques that enabled their production, the implications overturn assumptions from the historical humanities to conservation science. A new, interdisciplinary approach is now required.

Following from Printing Colour 1400-1700, this conference will be the first interdisciplinary assessment of Western colour printmaking in the long eighteenth century, 1700–1830. It will bring together researchers, curators, special collections librarians, printers, printmakers, cataloguers, conservators, art historians, book historians, digital humanities practitioners, scientists, and others who care for colour-printed material, seek to understand them, or use them in research. The discussion will encompass all media, techniques, and functions, from fashion to fine art, wallpaper to scientific communication. The programme includes papers, posters, private views of at nine collections, as well as a wine reception at Senate House, London.


Martin Andrews (Reading), Margaret Morgan Grasselli (National Gallery of Art)


British Library (Irène Fabry-Tehranchi), British Museum (Elizabeth Savage), Courtauld Institute of Art (Rachel Sloan), Rob Dixon (Rob Dixon), Senate House Library (Karen Attar, Tansy Barton), Roger Smith (Roger Smith), St Bride Foundation (Ad Stijnman), Typography Department, University of Reading (Rob Banham), V&A (Liz Miller), Wellcome Library (Julia Nurse, William Schupbach)


Sidney Berger (Simmons College), Andrew Bush (National Trust), Juliet Carey (Waddesdon Manor), Dionysia Christoforou (Rijksmuseum), Michèle Cloonan (Simmons College), Rob Dixon (;, Lea Hagedorn (Herzog August Library), Geert-Jan Janse (Utrecht), Corinne Le Bitouzé (Bibliothèque nationale de France), Patricia Ferguson (British Museum), Sarah Lowengard (Cooper Union), Jean Michel Massing (Cambridge), Manon van der Mullen (Rijksmuseum), Chiara Palandri (National Library of Norway), Michael Phillips (York), Claudia-Alexandra Schwaighofer, Benedetta Spadaccini (Ambrosiana), Ad Stijnman (Leiden), Zalina Tetermazova (Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts), Simon Turner (Hollstein)


Wendy Andrews (Cambridge), Rob Banham (Reading), Jake Benson (Leiden), Patricia Ferguson (British Museum), Phillippa Mapes (English Heritage), Alice Nicoliello, Robin Rider (Wisconsin-Madison), Elizabeth Savage (Institute of English Studies), Ad Stijnman (Leiden), Corinne Thépaut-Cabasset (Versailles), Evelyn Wöldicke (Stiftung Brandenburger Tor)

Download Programme (click image below)

This event is supported by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung. A number of Bibliographical Society Studentships will be available to cover registration fees for postgraduate students.

The School of Advanced Study is part of the central University of London. The School takes its responsibility to visitors with special needs very seriously and will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments to its facilities in order to accommodate the needs of such visitors. If you have a particular requirement, please feel free to discuss it confidentially with the organiser in advance of the event taking place.

Enquiries: Events Officer, Institute of English Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU; Email: