Currier & Ives. "Prairie Hens."
Currier & Ives, 1872-74. Small folio. ca. 8 1/2 x 12 1/2. Lithograph. Original hand color. Wide margins. Stain at top margin edge, not affecting image. C:4860. A/A
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 one of still-life of lush fruits, were some of the most endearing and enduring works that the firm produced. And in this case, the artist, Frances Palmer, was one of the most celebrated Currier & Ives artists, known for her especially rich and decorative floral pieces. This print is an excellent example of her work, with its brilliant color and artful profusion of enticing objects. A wonderful example of mid-nineteenth-century Americana.