The Pochoir Process

Croquis No XIX
Croquis No XIII
Bouquet de Violettes

Pochoir is an advanced form of stencil printing, used most notably in France during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Originally used for mass-producing cheap items like playing cards, by the time Vogel began Gazette du Bon Ton pochoir was considered an elegant way to reproduce artwork in color. All of the color plates and images throughout the run of Gazette du Bon Ton use this method; coupled with the rich and expensive paper Vogel used the pochoir prints provided a luxury magazine experience that was unparalleled at the time.

The pochoir process begins with a craftsman called a décopeur, who analyzes the color properties of the image and cuts stencils for each tone; early stencils were cut from sheets of copper or aluminum, but eventually gave way to various celluloids and plastics. Coloristes – paint application technicians – then use a variety of brushes and techniques in conjunction with the stencils to add colors to the image, typically over a block print or lithograph of the main lines of the piece (similar to a colorist adding to inks in modern comic books). The process can readily produce complex effects of texture and color layering but is time-consuming and requires a number of skilled craftsmen to produce a run of prints. By the 1930s pochoir had almost completely disappeared from publishing as quicker and less expensive reproduction technologies became widely available. Today, the technique is practiced by individual artists and a small handful of specialist print studios.