Poitevin, Alphonse Louise

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b. 1819 Conflans, France
d. 1882 Conflans, France
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French chemical engineer who established the essential principles of photolithography, carbon printing and collotype printing.
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Poitevin graduated as a chemical engineer from the Ecole Centrale in Paris in 1843. He was appointed as a chemist with the Salines National de l'Est, a post which allowed him time for research, and he soon became interested in the recent invention of photography. He conducted a series of electrolytic experiments on daguerreotype plates in 1847 and 1848 which led him to propose a method of photochemical engraving on plates coated with silver or gold. In 1850 he joined the firm of Periere in Lyons, and the same year travelled to Paris. During the 1850s, Poitevin conducted a series of far-reaching experiments on the reactions of chromates with light, and in 1855 he took out two important patents which exploited the light sensitivity of bichromated gelatine. Poitevin's work during this period is generally recognized as having established the essential principles of photolithography, carbon printing and collotype printing, key steps in the development of modern photomechanical printing. His contribution to the advancement of photography was widely recognized and honours were showered upon him. Particularly welcome was the greater part of the 10,000 franc prize awarded by the Duke of Lynes, a wealthy art lover, for the discovery of permanent photographic printing processes. This sum was not sufficient to allow Poitevin to stop working, however, and in 1869 he resumed his career as a chemical engineer, first managing a glass works and then travelling to Africa to work in silver mines. Upon the death of his father he returned to his home town, where he remained until his own death in 1882.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur 1865. Paris Exposition Internationale Gold Medal for Services to Photography, 1878.
Bibliography
December 1855, British patent nos 2,815, 2,816.
Further Reading
G.Tissandiers, 1876, A History and Handbook of Photography, trans. J.Thomson. J.M.Eder, 1945, History of Photography, trans. E.Epstean, New York.
H.Gernsheim and A.Gernsheim, 1969, The History of Photography, rev. edn, London.
JW

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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