Jul 4, 2013 to Oct 27, 2013
When Nathanial Currier, a young businessman in New York City, published a lithograph in 1835 showing Planters Hotel in New Orleans after a fire, it ushered in a new era of pictorial journalism. The print established the firm which was to achieve its greatest fame as "Currier & Ives" after 1857 when James Merritt Ives became a partner. Over the next seven decades, the firm consistently provided the public with images that recorded the breaking news of the day. However, as the demand for decorative lithographs increased, Currier & Ives also published prints depicting almost every aspect of American life. Through an ever-expanding repertoire of images, the prints of Currier & Ives celebrated the activities, events and everyday life of nineteenth century Americans. Images included domestic life, historical events, city and country views, religious scenes, scenic wonders, westward expansion, trains, ships, winter scenes and hunting and fishing. Each print was titled and most were hand-colored by women who worked for the firm.
The prints were sold in the New York City shop, distributed through mail-order, and were offered by peddlers and by agents working throughout the United States and Europe. Working with speed and efficiency, Currier & Ives printed two to three images every week for 64 years, and the firm is believed to have produced more than 8,000 different titled lithographic prints. Many of the images serve to document a wide variety of social trends and attitudes that reflect American culture during the nineteenth century. The Legacy of Currier & Ives allows visitors to experience American history and society through the extraordinary images produced by the legendary firm who called themselves "Printmakers to the People."
Biggs Museum of American Art
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