Thomas Kelly. "The Farmers Home, Winter."
New York: Thomas Kelly, 1874. 8 1/4 x 12. Lithograph. Original hand color. Very good condition.
Thomas Kelly, of New York City, was one of the more successful publishers of the period, creating archetypal and idyllic views of all areas of life in America. Kelly's work is distinctive for strong coloring and vivid, forthright compositions.
Popular decorative lithographs made their first American appearance in the 1820s, but by the middle of the century, lithography had transformed the role of art in America. Before the advent of lithography in America, the general public had little art in their lives. Prints intended for display, produced by woodcut or engraving, had a long history, but these prints were generally expensive and limited in distribution to the social elite. Lithography allowed for the production, in large numbers, of inexpensive and often colorful prints which could be purchased by the general public for display in their homes, at work, and in their places of leisure. By the second half of the century, many homes, taverns, shops, and offices were decorated with these cheap and colorful prints on myriad subjects of interest to the public. Whereas at the beginning of the century most Americans had little access to art in their life, by the end of the century, popular art was ubiquitous in the lives of most Americans.