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Didier Ben Loulou
History of the Fresson process
According to a document from the archives of the family, Théodore-Henri FRESSON showed the French Society of Photography "Photographic prints made on charcoal paper made without transfer", in 1899. T.H. FRESSON said that he managed to get this result by preparing his paper with several coats of different light-sensitive layers.The insoluble ones were close to the paper. Nevertheless, T.H. FRESSON being an agronomic engineer was not destined to this research. In those days an inquisitive minded man had a large field of investigation before him. M. POITEVIN had perfected the first charcoal paper and M. ARTIGUE was selling paper under the name "Velvet" after which the paper of Mr.FRESSON tooks its name "Satin". T.H. FRESSON began to use this paper, but as an inveterate researcher, he rapidly turned himself towards other experiments. His wife Maria with the help of their older son Pierre manufactured and marketed this paper. Their other son Edmond soon joined them. They sold charcoal sheets of paper ready to be used by experienced amateurs. The FRESSON paper was marketed in different colour intensities and supports which provided a large range of possibilities. Thanks to this process the photographers could express themselves according to their artistic feelings. We can quote the most famous of them: ORTIZ ECHAGUE, Léonard MISONNE, DEMACHY, and Commandant PUYOT. When the smaller slides appeared, this process had to be adapted to the enlargement. It was only possible through a strong UV light. Pierre had the idea to use an arc lamp used for the cinema and he consequently built a special enlarger. In 1947 the two brother started to do their own printing in their workshop in Dreux, and stopped selling the charcoal paper. Edmond was in charge of the prints made by contact, and Pierre of the enlargements. Edmond was helped by his children Micheline and Jacques, and Pierre by his children Colette and Monique. They worked for some photographic studios and some famous artists such as Laure ALBIN GUILLOT, Lucien LORELLE, and Pierre JAHAN. In 1950, Pierre decided to apply the process in colour prints. The two brothers parted and Pierre settled in a smaller workshop in the suburb of Paris. That was more practical for the customers, especially foreigners. That was the time when his son Michel began to work with him. Together they perfected the first charcoal colour print after two years of research and tests. An interiors photographer, Jean VINCENT was highly interested in these prints which allowed his wealthy customers to exhibit their luxury items on luxurious prints. In 1960 with the help of young graphic artists and publicity photographers, the colour process started to find a market. In 1970 young artistic photographers such as John BATHO, Bernard PLOSSU, Bernard FAUCON found the possibility to use this process at it's best: i.e.Printing for exhibition and one-off prints, all helped by the excellent durability of preservation of the FRESSON prints. In 1978 Jean-François, Michel's son, joined the family team. Since then they have been continuing the family tradition together. (http://www.atelier-fresson.com)
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