Antecedents of Frottage

Alois Auer (1813-1869) is attributed with the invention of the process of nature printing. The Austrian printer was the first to publish instructions in four languages for the process in The Discovery of the Natural Printing Process: An Invention, Vienna, 1853. In this plate, he showed readers the different forms that nature prints can take: as well as prints from stone, wood, flowers, leaves, seaweeds and fabric, there are prints from snakeskin and the tail of a petrified fish.

Photography was still a novelty when Anna Atkins (1799-1871) produced her Photographs of British Algae. Very few people had seen examples of the cyanotype process – where a photographic printing process gives a cyan-blue print.

Sir Hans Sloane‘s copy of Albrect Dürer’s print of a rhinoceros, decorated front and back with nature prints of flowers and leaves.

All images from Roderick Cave, Impressions of Nature: A History of Nature Printing, reviewed with picture gallery here.

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