Senefelder, Alois

Alois Senefelder, inventor of lithography, 1771-1834

Johann Alois Senefelder was a German actor and playwright who invented the printing technique of lithography in the 1790s. Senefelder experimented with a novel etching technique using a greasy, acid resistant ink as a resist on a smooth fine-grained stone. He then discovered that this could be extended to allow printing from the flat surface of the stone alone, the first planographic process in printing. He joined with the André family of music publishers and gradually brought his technique into a workable form. With the composer Franz Gleißner he started a publishing firm in 1796 using lithography. The value of the new cheap and exact reproduction process was recognized across Europe.