Online Exhibtion from Special Collections

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“Town and Country in Miniature: Color Plate Books at Augustana”

Color-plate books are an interesting and unusual type of publication, popular mostly in Britain between 1790 and 1860. The books are particular outgrowths of interests of Regency and Victorian society; popular topics included travel and antiquities, sports such as hunting and horse racing, scenes of British life, and caricature. Most illustrations were produced using either aquatint or lithography. Aquatint is the process most suitable for reproducing watercolors, a popular medium at the time. Aquatints were usually printed in one or two colors; the other colors would later be added by hand. Lithography gradually came to replace aquatint because it was a cheaper process and it eliminated the need for hand coloring. “Town and Country in Miniature” presents an overview of color plate books, focusing on the genres that were produced and their illustrators, who included some of the most famous artists and illustrators of the period.

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