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Tirage à la gomme bichromatée

The gum bichromate print patent was filed in 1858 by the English photographer John Pouncy. A little earlier, in 1850, the French scientist Alphonse Poitevin had demonstrated the property that potassium bichromate had to make gum arabic insoluble after exposure to light. At this time the process only met with limited success and was soon forgotten.

It resurfaced in the late nineteenth century in a publication by Albert Rust-Ladevèze, who had a more artistic rather than scientific approach. Gum bichromate printing was then very popular for several years before declining from 1914 onwards.

The photographer uses a brush to coat a thick paper sheet, capable of taking several immersions, with a mixture of gum arabic, potassium bichromate or ammonium and a pigment to give the print its colour. Several pigments can be applied in layers, enabling a three-colour or four-colour print to be obtained.

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