Collection: Chromolithography

The 50 years following the Civil War have been called the period of "chromo civilization" in America. Millions of chromolithographs were made, and they became the customary decoration in most homes throughout the country --what print historian Peter Marzio calls "the core of American life." One of the great appeals of chromolithography was its low production costs, allowing thousands of bright, attractive colored prints to be sold inexpensively, bringing glimpses of grand art within reach of the masses. But chromolithography was much more than this. Through chromolithography, historical events were graphically depicted, American views were spread far and wide, and all aspects of American life were vividly documented. Alongside these pragmatic purposes, artists employed the process to create prints that very closely followed their artistic vision, and many chromolithographs, which were produced using heavy oil-based inks, closely duplicated the appearance of actual oil paintings.

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