Godefroy Engelmann

Godefroy Engelmann (born August 17, 1788 in Mulhouse where he died on April 25, 1839), was a 19th-century Franco-German French artist, draftsman, lithographer and chromolithographer. He was also the instigator of the Industrial Society of Mulhouse (SIM), whose idea he launched in 1812.

From a former family in Mulhouse who gave two bourgmestres to this city, he was with Louis-François Lejeune one of the main introducers of lithography in France. After studying drawing in Bordeaux and then in 1808 at the Beaux-Arts in Paris where he was a pupil of Régnault, he returned the same year to enter as a draftsman in the Thierry factory in Mulhouse. He marries the following year Anne-Catherine, daughter of his bosses, becomes a partner in the family business, and, sponsored by his father-in-law, is admitted to the Masonic lodge “Parfaite Harmonie”. It was to this lodge that he submitted, in 1812, the project of the creation of a society “for the advancement of arts and crafts”, which in 1825 led to the foundation of the Industrial Society of Mulhouse.

In 1813-1814, he was interested in lithography, and spent a few months at Aloys Senefelder in Munich. He founded in 1814, in partnership with the capital of notables Mulhousiens, lithographic Society of Mulhouse, installed in a house belonging to Koechlin. In 1816, leaving his brother-in-law Pierre Thierry in charge of the establishment of Mulhouse, he moved to Paris with some of his workmen.

Engelmann brought to the lithography several improvements, notably the lithographic wash in 1819. The stone prepared to have grain makes it possible to get rid of the line drawing, with a result similar to the black but much simpler way of execution. The process allows the drawing, inverted left-right, directly to the bold pencil on the stone.

Engelmann, with new capital, launched a lithographic style of quality, illustrated by numerous works, including the plates of the first volumes of the Picturesque and Romantic Journeys in Ancient France, directed by Baron Taylor. Prominent artists, such as Bonington and Isabey, participated in these large volumes illustrated with full-page boards, sold in deliveries, showing the French provinces, but also Switzerland, the Levant or Brazil. The productions of the house Engelmann will accede to the Salon in 1817, 1819, 1822, 1827 and others.

An ancillary society was founded in London in 1826, the bad management of which led to the dissociation of all the establishments in 1833 after heavy losses during the economic crisis of 1828-30.

Godefroy Engelmann then returned to Mulhouse and founded with his son Godefroy the Society Engelmann father and son. His technical researches led him to the invention of chromolithography in 1836, later developed by pioneers such as the Austrian lithographer Peter Fendi and his son Jean, a partner in the former establishment in Paris to Pierre Thierry. Jean will invent transparent diaphany or chromolithography, intended to be glued to glass. He died in 1875.

Engelmann is the author of a Complete Course in the Study of Drawing (1816), a Manual of the Lithographer (1822), and a Theoretical and Practical Tract of Lithography (1939). He also became known as a miniaturist. He published, between 1823 and 1831, the Letters on Switzerland, accompanied by views drawn from nature and lithographed by M Villeneuve (In folio).