Jacob Christoph Le Blon
Jacob Christoph Le Blon
2 May 1667
|Died||16 May 1741 74) (aged|
|Nationality||Citizen of the Free imperial city of Frankfurt|
Jacob Christoph Le Blon, or Jakob Christoffel Le Blon, (2 May 1667 – 16 May 1741) was a painter and engraver from Frankfurt who invented the system of three- and four-colour printing, using an RYB color model which segued into the modern CMYK system.  He used the mezzotint method to engrave three or four metal plates (one each per printing ink) to make prints with a wide range of colours. His methods helped form the foundation for modern colour printing.
On his father's side Le Blon descended from Huguenots fleeing France in 1576, having settled in Frankfurt. His grandfather Christof Le Blon married Susanna Barbara Merian daughter of the artist and engraver Matthäus Merian (1593–1650). Le Blon is reported to have received training as a young man from the Swiss painter and engraver Conrad Ferdinand Meyer (1618–1689) in Zurich but there is no documentary evidence.
It is generally agreed that Le Blon had an extended stay sometime between 1696 and 1702 in Rome where he is reported to have studied art under the painter Carlo Maratta (1625–1713).  There he became acquainted with the Dutch painter and engraver Bonaventura van Overbeek who created an extensive work of views of the antiquities of Rome, published posthumously in 1708 and containing a portrait of Overbeek attributed to Le Blon. Encouraged by van Overbeek, Le Blon moved to Amsterdam, presumably in 1702, where he worked as a miniature painter and engraver. In 1705 he married Gerarda Vloet with whom he had two sons that appear to have died in infancy.
In 1707 Le Blon issued a short publication in Dutch on the forms of the human body.  In 1708 and 1709 he is known to have made colorant mixing experiments in Amsterdam and in 1710 he made his first color prints with yellow, red, and blue plates.  While in Amsterdam he became acquainted with Arnold Houbraken, who quoted him as a source of information on German painters for his Schouburg,  later published after Houbraken's death in 1718. Le Blon's wife died in 1716 and in 1717 he moved to London where he received royal patents for the three-color printing process and a three-color tapestry weaving process. The tapestry process involved using white, yellow, red, blue, and black fibers to create images.  The printing process involved using three different intaglio plates, inked in different colours.
In 1725 he published Coloritto, in French and English.   In Coloritto, Le Blon asserted that “the art of mixing colours…(in) painting can represent all visible objects with three colours: yellow, red and blue; for all colours can be composed of these three, which I call Primitive”. Le Blon added that red and yellow make orange; red and blue, make purple/violet; and blue and yellow make green (Le Blon, 1725, p6).
During his stay in England he produced several dozen of three- and four-colored images in multiple copies that initially sold well in England and on the continent. In the long run his enterprise did not succeed, however, and Le Blon left England in 1735, moving to Paris where he continued producing prints by his method. During his last years several sequences of prints were produced and sold showing the different steps of his printing process, such as a portrait of the French Cardinal de Fleury.  In 1740 he began work on a collection of anatomical prints for which he had a solid list of subscribers. When he died in 1741 in Paris he left a 4½ year-old daughter, Margueritte, as sole heir.  A detailed description of Le Blon's work was published in 1756 by Antoine Gautier de Montdorge who befriended him during his final years in Paris. 
Le Blon's method required experience in deconstructing a colored image into its presumed primary chromatic components and understanding the effects of superimposing printing inks in certain areas, for which extensive trial and error work was required. Le Blon's process was practiced in France after his death and progressed in the early-mid-19th century into chromolithography. What was required, however, is a methodology to break images objectively into color components which became possible with the invention of color photography in the second half of the 19th century and the invention of half-tone printing in the late 19th century.
Blue is one of the three primary colours in the RYB colour model, as well as in the RGB (additive) colour model. It lies between violet and cyan on the spectrum of visible light. The eye perceives blue when observing light with a dominant wavelength between approximately 450 and 495 nanometres. Most blues contain a slight mixture of other colours; azure contains some green, while ultramarine contains some violet. The clear daytime sky and the deep sea appear blue because of an optical effect known as Rayleigh scattering. An optical effect called Tyndall effect explains blue eyes. Distant objects appear more blue because of another optical effect called aerial perspective.
A set of primary colors or primary colours consists of colorants or colored lights that can be mixed in varying amounts to produce a gamut of colors. This is the essential method used to create the perception of a broad range of colors in, e.g., electronic displays, color printing, and paintings. Perceptions associated with a given combination of primary colors can be predicted by an appropriate mixing model that reflects the physics of how light interacts with physical media, and ultimately the retina.
Mezzotint is a monochrome printmaking process of the intaglio family. It was the first printing process that yielded half-tones without using line- or dot-based techniques like hatching, cross-hatching or stipple. Mezzotint achieves tonality by roughening a metal plate with thousands of little dots made by a metal tool with small teeth, called a "rocker". In printing, the tiny pits in the plate retain the ink when the face of the plate is wiped clean. This technique can achieve a high level of quality and richness in the print, and produce a furniture print which is large and bold enough to be framed and hung effectively in a room.
Aquatint is an intaglio printmaking technique, a variant of etching that produces areas of tone rather than lines. For this reason it has mostly been used in conjunction with etching, to give both lines and shaded tone. It has also been used historically to print in colour, both by printing with multiple plates in different colours, and by making monochrome prints that were then hand-coloured with watercolour.
Chromolithography is a method for making multi-colour prints. This type of colour printing stemmed from the process of lithography, and includes all types of lithography that are printed in colour. When chromolithography is used to reproduce photographs, the term photochrome is frequently used. Lithographers sought to find a way to print on flat surfaces with the use of chemicals instead of raised relief or recessed intaglio techniques. A chromolithograph is also known as an oleograph.
Jacobus Houbraken was a Dutch engraver and the son of the artist and biographer Arnold Houbraken (1660–1719), whom he assisted in producing a published record of the lives of artists from the Dutch Golden Age.
RYB is a subtractive color model used in art and applied design in which red, yellow, and blue pigments are considered primary colors. Under traditional color theory, this set of primary colors was advocated by Moses Harris, Michel Eugène Chevreul, Johannes Itten and Josef Albers, and applied by countless artists and designers. The RYB color model underpinned the color curriculum of the Bauhaus, Ulm School of Design and numerous art and design schools that were influenced by the Bauhaus, including the IIT Institute of Design, Black Mountain College, Design Department Yale University, the Shillito Design School, Sydney, and Parsons School of Design, New York.
Events from the year 1741 in art.
Events from the year 1667 in art.
Hatching is a conventional system for monochrome denotation of heraldic armory, whereby the tinctures (colours) are represented by dots and lines. This technique is employed in cases where colours, for either aesthetic, practical or economic reasons are not reproduced – e.g. on surfaces such as woodcuts or engravings, seals and coins.
Arnold Houbraken was a Dutch painter and writer from Dordrecht, now remembered mainly as a biographer of Dutch Golden Age painters.
Jan Albertsz. Rotius was a Dutch painter known for his individual and group portraits, breakfast still lifes, kitchen still lifes and fruit still lifes. He was active in Hoorn and was the father of the flower painter Jacob Rotius.
Johannes or Johan Teyler was a Dutch Golden Age painter, engraver, mathematics teacher, and promoter of the technique in color printmaking now known as à la poupée.
Pieter Fris was a Dutch Golden Age landscape painter.
Stipple engraving is a technique used to create tone in an intaglio print by distributing a pattern of dots of various sizes and densities across the image. The pattern is created on the printing plate either in engraving by gouging out the dots with a burin, or through an etching process. Stippling was used as an adjunct to conventional line engraving and etching for over two centuries, before being developed as a distinct technique in the mid-18th century.
Bonaventura van Overbeek (1660–1705) was a Dutch Golden Age draughtsman and engraver.
Jacques Fabien Gautier d'Agoty (1716–1785) was a French anatomist, painter and printmaker.
Jan l'Admiral (1699–1773) was an 18th-century engraver from the northern Netherlands.
Antoine-César Gautier de Montdorge was a French man of letters, best known for writing the libretto for Rameau's opéra-balletLes fêtes d'Hébé (1739). Born in Lyon, he moved to Paris, where he worked as a financier. He was a friend and neighbour of Rameau's patron Alexandre Le Riche de La Pouplinière and probably met the composer at La Pouplinière's salon. Montdorge was not identified as the author of Les fêtes d'Hébé on any of its printed editions. It was first attributed to him by Antoine de Léris in the 1763 edition of his Dictionnaire portatif des théâtres. Reviewers severely criticised the literary weakness of the work. The only other opera libretto Montdorge wrote was the one-act comédie-ballet L'opéra de société for Jean-François Giraud in 1762. He described his experience working as a librettist for Rameau in the anonymously published Réflections d'un peintre sur l'opéra (1743).
The Le Blon was a French automobile