From 1834 to 1907 the firm of Currier and Ives provided for the American people a pictorial history of their country's growth from an agricultural society to an industrialized one. For nearly three quarters of a century the firm provided "Colored Engravings for the People" and in the process, because of the democratic philosophy of the business, became the visual raconteurs of nineteenth-century America. Nathaniel Currier established the firm in 1834, producing hand colored pictures using a then relatively new process called lithography. Some of the finest artists of the day, Louis Maurer, Thomas Worth, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait, Frances Flora Bond Palmer, George H. Durrie, Napoleon Sarony, Charles Parsons, and J. E. Butterworth were engaged by the firm to produce a variety of images.
The firm of Currier and Ives gained its reputation for producing two types of prints–"rush" prints that provided immediate visual reporting of major newsworthy events, and "stock" prints depicting every subject relating to American life: sports, games, home life, religion, entertainment, views of cities, and so forth. The latter prints, such as this superb ship scene, were amongst the most endearing and enduring of the firm's work. Striking and colorful, this is a wonderful example of the work of "America's printmakers." $2,600
The end of the nineteenth century was a period when the growing moneyed classes were becoming very interested in sporting activities, such as fishing, shooting, riding, and yachting. This was also a period when chromolithography was being used to produce prints that captured the feel, texture and nuances of watercolors. These two developments led to the production of a number of superior portfolios of chromolithographic prints after watercolor drawings of sporting events. This is a rare and impressive series of such prints based on watercolors by Henry Shields, showing yachts on the Clyde. The quality of the printmaking is excellent, and the images well convey the drama and excitement of yachting.
A series of strong yacht racing prints by Frederic S. Cozzens (1856-1928), who is considered to be one of the best American nineteenth century marine illustrators. Known best for his depiction of yachting scenes, Cozzens drew all types of watercraft. He is known to have sketched marine scenes as early as 1868. Cozzens contributed many illustrations to such publications as Harper's Weekly, The Daily Graphic, and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Magazine. Cozzens also exhibited at the New York Watercolor Society. In 1880 the New York Yacht Club commissioned a set of six watercolors which are still hanging in the club today. By 1883, Cozzens was a well established marine illustrator, and decided to turn his watercolors into prints. His first publication was American Yachts, Their Clubs and Races, which contained 27 chromolithographs. These views are considered to be Cozzens' finest work, vividly conveying the atmosphere and thrill of the yacht races they depict. The portfolio of full color chromolithographs was released in a limited edition of signed "artist's proofs" and later in a second printing as "color prints" The set included twenty-five scenes of yachting activity, a signal chart featuring the flags of sixty-six yacht clubs, and an extra plate (which must have been included at the last possible moment) of the 1885 America's Cup race between Puritan and Genesta. Cozzens' work was so well received that he produced four other series of prints: Typical American Yachts (1886); Yachts and Yachting (1887); Our Navy, Its Growth and Achievements (1892); and Old Naval Prints (1892). By the turn of the century, Cozzens turned to drawing more beach scenes, seascapes and European vessels than he did yachting scenes, but it is for the latter which he is most famous. These are excellent examples from his most famous series, American Yachts. It wonderfully conveys the realism and vividness of Cozzens' best work.
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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. Last updated November 25, 2013