Alois Senefelder

Alois Senefelder

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Alois Senefelder

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Johann Alois Senefelder (6 November 1771 – 26 February 1834) was a German actor and playwright who invented the printing technique of lithography in 1796.

Actor, playwright

Born Aloys Johann Nepomuk Franz Senefelder in Prague where his actor father was appearing on stage. He was educated in Munich and won a scholarship to study law at Ingolstadt. The death of his father in 1791 forced him to leave his studies to support his mother and eight siblings, and he became an actor and wrote a successful play Connoisseur of Girls.

Discovery, development of lithography

Problems with the printing of his play Mathilde von Altenstein caused him to fall into debt, and unable to afford to publish a new play he had written, Senefelder experimented with a novel etching technique using a greasy, acid resistant ink as a resist on a smooth fine-grained stone of Solnhofen limestone. He then discovered that this could be extended to allow printing from the flat surface of the stone alone, the first planographic process in printing.

He joined with the André family of music publishers and gradually brought his technique into a workable form, perfecting both the chemical processes and the special form of printing press required for using the stones. He called it "stone printing" or "chemical printing", but the...
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