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Mystery bird print/artwork (late 1800s) (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
I found this old print/artwork in my grandparents' archives. The text at the bottom reads, "Eidographie, Bourgerie-Villette, r, Fontaine-au-Roi, 56, Paris." I believe "Eidographie" is the type of print, and "Bourgerie-Villette" is the name of the printer (in Paris). It probably dates to the late 1800s, possibly 1870s or 1880s (based on Googling the printer's name). I can't decipher the artist's name.

Can anyone identify the artist?
Any educated guesses as to the year it was made?
Can anyone identify the birds? (Or are they idealized/fictitious)?



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JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
Upper one looks like maybe a Blue-necked Tanager. The light blue on the belly of the lower one makes me suspect it's a not very accurate Bay-headed Tanager.


Unknown member
I was curious about the "Eidographie" bit, and did a search to know about this technique. It seems it was invented around 1880, so about 30 years earlier than "screen printing" (serigraphy), which at first I thought this was a synonym of.
Here's an excerpt from the journal "The Art Amateur" (1881):
"Eidographie " is the name given to a process invented by Professor A. F. Eckhardt, a German chemist. According to the inventor, "silken cushions", such as ladies have been accustomed to spend weeks in embroidering from designs in colored silk, are decorated elegantly by the pencil of the * eidographist ' in a few hours, and the work is done in metal, which will not wear off, as the silk of embroidery does. Instead of the expensive stained- glass windows used in churches, windows decorated by the 4 eidographie ' process can be employed, producing similar effects, and at a comparatively nominal cost. Wooden ware can be embellished by the same process, as can paper, metal, ivory, leather, wire screens, and any solid surface. The designs being in solid metal, and the brilliant coloring a compound part of the metal, the decorative work is permanently fixed, and will last as long as the material upon which it is placed." The worker in eidographie is supplied with a number of pencils containing the metal which Professor Eckhardt has compounded, and the composition of which is his secret, in a fluid form. It is said that every known color can be produced. The moment the fluid meets the air, upon issuing from the pencil, it hardens and becomes a metal, adhering so closely to the material upon which it is laid that it cannot be removed without breaking. One of the uses to which eidographie is capable of being applied is said to be the production of copper and steel plates for engraving. The design is first made by the new process, and a nega- tive is then taken. The labor of engraving is thus saved. This is all very wonderful. We hope it is true.


Well-known member
Rafael, thanks for the research on "Eidographie." It isn't clear to me whether the process described in the article is used for printing on paper.

I also found that the English word eidography is defined as "a system for enlarging or reducing drawings." And I found this curious passage from a book called The Inland Printer (Google excerpt): "A recent issue of the British and Colonial Printer and Stationer contains an interesting interview with Mr. C. Henry Hall, a gentleman claiming to be the inventor a new and wonderful process for reproducing printed matter, perhaps the most wonderful that has ever been devised. . . . While the process is claimed to be a complete secret, it is chemo-mechanical in character, and the printing is done direct from the original, the design being transferred to a litho-stone and more recently to zinc."

Is C. Henry Hall's eidography a different process than A. F. Eckhardt's eidographie?

I assume my print is an original print, e.g., not a reproduction of another print. But it isn't clear to me whether the colors are printed ink (e.g. chromolithograph) or an applied metal-based fluid compound as implied by the "Eidographie" article you cited. If metal, would the colors be hand applied or printed via a plate? The colors are incredibly vibrant. Perhaps there is an easy way to ascertain the nature of the image/color on my artwork (e.g., printed vs applied, ink vs metal compound).

Update: I contacted a couple of print sellers who both seem to think my print is likely a printed lithograph with hand-coloring used for the birds. Makes sense. (But they didn't say if the hand coloring is regular ink or a metallic compound; perhaps metal-containing ink?)

The research continues...
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