Klic, Karol (Klietsch, Karl)

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b. 31 May 1841 Arnau, Bohemia (now Czech Republic)
d. 16 November 1826 Vienna, Austria
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Czech inventor of photogravure and rotogravure.
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Klic, sometimes known by the germanized form of his name Karl Klietsch, gained a knowledge of chemistry from his chemist father. However, he inclined towards the arts, preferring to mix paints rather than chemicals, and he trained in art at the Academy of Painting in Prague. His father thought to combine the chemical with the artistic by setting up his son in a photographic studio in Brno, but the arts won and in 1867 Klic moved to Vienna to practise as an illustrator and caricaturist. He also acquired skill as an etcher, and this led him to print works of art reproduced by photography by means of an intaglio process. He perfected the process c.1878 and, through it, Vienna became for a while the world centre for high-quality art reproductions. The prints were made by hand from flat plates, but Klic then proposed that the images should be etched onto power-driven cylinders. He found little support for rotary gravure, or rotogravure, on the European continent, but learning that Storey Brothers, textile printers of Lancaster, England, were working in a similar direction, he went there in 1890 to perfect his idea. Rotogravure printing on textiles began in 1893. They then turned to printing art reproductions on paper by rotogravure and in 1895 formed the Rembrandt Intaglio Printing Company. Their photogra-vures attracted worldwide attention when they appeared in the Magazine of Art. Klic saw photogravure as a small-scale medium for the art lover and not for mass-circulation publications, so he did not patent his invention and thought to control it by secrecy. That had the usual result, however, and knowledge of the process leaked out from Storey's, spreading to other countries in Europe and, from 1903, to the USA. Klic lived on in a modest way in Vienna, his later years troubled by failing sight. He hardly earned the credit for the invention, let alone the fortune reaped by others who used, and still use, photogravure for printing long runs of copy such as newspaper colour supplements.
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Further Reading
Obituary, 1927, Inland Printer (January): 614.
Karol Klic. vynálezu hlubotisku, 1957, Prague (the only full-length biography; in Czech, with an introduction in English, French and German).
S.H.Horgan, 1925, "The invention of photogravure", Inland Printer (April): 64 (contains brief details of his life and works).
G.Wakeman, 1973, Victorian Book Illustration, Newton Abbot: David \& Charles, pp. 126–8.
LRD

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

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