The photogravure is an intaglio print process that was sometimes used to produce high-quality reproductions of photographs in ink. A positive transparency of a photographic image is used to control the etching of a specially prepared metal plate. Photogravure is an photo-mechanical process whereby a copper plate is grained (adding a pattern to the plate) and then coated with a light-sensitive gelatin tissue which had been exposed to a film positive, and then etched, resulting in a high quality intaglio plate that can reproduce detailed continuous tones of a photograph.
After etching in an acid bath, the plate is inked and the surface wiped, leaving ink behind in the etched pits. A sheet of damp paper is then placed on the inked plate and printed. Photogravures have a smooth, continuous tonal range, although an extremely fine grain is evident under magnification. Invented by William Henry Fox Talbot in the 1840s, the process was perfected by Karl V. Klíč in 1879 and was popular from the mid-1880s through the 1910s.
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