Abstract

The new printing technique of lithography, which flourished in the early nineteenth century, has been examined for its connections to Romantic ideals of artistic subjectivity, to the liberal press, and to a boom in visual media. This article centers lithography’s unique materiality to investigate the significance of its new technique—its use of limestone—that establishes compelling connections to natural history and new conceptions of time. Eugène Delacroix’s (1798–1863) unruly marginalia, which populate the borders of the first printer’s proofs of his 1828 lithographic illustrations of Johann von Goethe’s (1749–1832) Faust, serve as a case study. Drawn on and printed from lithographic limestone, the marginalia can be interpreted as fossils. This article examines how lithography facilitated new conceptions of history, time, and memory that provided grounds for a Romantic artist like Delacroix to blur the boundaries between the human and the earthly, the artificial and the natural, the ephemeral and the historic, to find within the liminal the production and reproduction of transgressive forms that persisted throughout his artistic oeuvre.

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