In 1862 Parisian chemist François Charbonnel embarked on a new adventure. Driven by a pioneering spirit and scientific expertise, Charbonnel opened a small shop on the banks of the Seine, filled with his own brand of fine art printing materials. There had been a spectacular revival of printmaking, triggered by the recent arrival of photography. Until this point, artworks had been reproduced by engraving print methods. However, artists were beginning to rediscover lithographic processes. They needed specialist supplies and Charbonnel's newly created grounds, inks and varnishes were waiting.
Designed for intaglio, etching and lithographic printmaking, they quickly famed artists including Pissarro, Renoir, Degas, Manet, Lautrec and Signac. Soon, the reputation of Charbonnel materials spread. Today Charbonnel is synonymous with unmatched quality.
Charbonnel continued to create and develop his business. Formulations were continuously enhanced, taking in artists' feedback while incorporating new advances in chemistry. New materials were developed for new reproduction techniques. Located in a traditionally artistic quarter, close to the Ecole des Beaux Arts and the Louvre, the Charbonnel shop became a popular meeting place for artists. Picasso, Chagall, Dali and Klee were dedicated customers and used Charbonnel products in their practice.
In the 1930s, a new photomechanical process, offset printing, emerged. Traditional lithographic print techniques, however, continued their popularity in the fine art world. The fine art print remained the preferred way to edition original artworks and continues to hold a position of high status.
Today, over 150 years after we were founded, we not only continue to provide inks and grounds for etching and lithography but have expanded our collection to include materials for restoration, gilding, conservation and fresco painting. Now part of the Lefranc Bourgeois family, we remain the international reference for fine art printing.