Today we are highlighting a great and scarce series of chromolithographs from Svenska Folket (translated: Swedish Customs) by Onkel Adam. The collection was published by Alber Bonnier in Stockholm, circa 1860. The lithographs were done by the very talented printmaker Em. Baerentzen, who worked out of Copenhagen during the nineteenth century.
This wonderful series is subtitled, in English, “The Swedish People, Their Customs and Manners in Pictures and Legends.” The series included 12 images, all titled in Swedish, German and English, show people at such everyday trades and activities, such as bear-hunting, logging, attending church and enjoying a country fair. Five additional plates exist in only Swedish. The Old Print Gallery is lucky to have 7 chromolithographs from this series.
The process of lithography is based on the mutual antipathy of oil and water. To make a lithograph, the artist uses an oily or greasy crayon to draw on a flat, ground limestone. The surface of the stone is flooded with water, which is repelled by the greasy areas, and covers only the areas where the drawing isn’t. Printers ink, which is oil-based, is applied to the stone with a roller and it, in turn, sticks only to the greasy sections. The stone is then covered with a sheet of paper and run through a high-pressure press to make the print. A chromolithograph, which these prints are, is another term for a color lithograph. The artist involves a large number of lithographic stones, to allow for a complex color separation. The term is often used to describe late nineteenth-century color lithographs, which were printed to emulate or reproduce paintings for the general public.
Below are our seven chromolithographs from Svenska Folket.