George Cram. "Life and Age of Man / Life and Age of Woman"
Chicago: George Cram, 415-417 Dearborn Street, ca. 1885-1890. 28 3/4 x 24. Chromolithograph. Lightly varnished; mounted on varnished maple rollers. Very good condition.
With up-to-date costumes and timely hairdos, the timeless subject of life's cycle appears in George Cram's "Life and Age of Man / Life and Age of Woman." Widespread since the advent of the printing press, visual reminders of life's fragility were especially popular with Victorian Protestants, a largely Anglo, Calvinist group whose beliefs centered on God's sovereignty and man's weakness. Through mourning jewelry and post-mortem portraits, they expressed both awareness of human mortality and belief in eternal life. Like the portraits, the "Life and Age of Man . . ." print could be framed to decorate a parlor or bedroom wall; on rollers (as seen here), it might serve as a teaching tool for a classroom or Sunday School.
Cram's "Life and Age of Man . . ." is identical in composition to those published by firms like Currier & Ives earlier in the nineteenth century (which likewise drew on European precedents) -- only time-sensitive details changed. Military uniforms, ladies' hairdos, and costume silhouettes were altered to appeal to the style-conscious middle class, who would have been the likely viewers/consumers of a fashionable reminder of an eternal theme. A very scarce interpretation of one of the most popular themes in Western print culture.