A fine, original antique print by Elijah C. Middleton. Middleton is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of chromolithography in America. Establishing his engraving firm in Cincinnati at mid-nineteenth-century, Middleton’s business benefited from the city’s prime location along routes of westward migration. As the city grew, so did a market for printed material – including chromolithographs. Middleton and his partner, W.R. Wallace, ventured from engraving into chromolithography and produced the oldest surviving chromolithograph from Cincinnati. Their partnership became the basis for chromo-publishing giant Strobridge & Company, which competed with Ehrgott & Forbriger for prominence in the Cincinnati and Midwestern print markets.
Shortly after Hines Strobridge joined Middleton and Wallace in partnership, Middleton struck out on his own in 1861, advertising his own gallery of printed portraits made with “warranted oil-colors.” These oval portraits are wonderfully done in chromolithography and are often found, as here, in frames from the period. Middleton’s work gained him attention as far away as Philadelphia, where lithography giant P.S. Duval commented on Middleton as his competition.