Louis Mauer. “Camping Out. Some of the Right Sort.” New York: N. Currier, 1856. Large folio. 19 x 27 1/2. Lithograph. Full original hand color. With tear into image top right; expertly repaired. Else, very good condition. In period frame. C:777.
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.
In 1834 Nathaniel Currier established the firm which produced 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 prints were printed in black and white and then the finest colors, imported from Austria, were applied by hand by women, most of German descent. They were then ready for both foreign and domestic distribution through a variety of means, one of which included push cart vendors who walked through the streets, prints tacked upon their carts, selling them for a few cents each.
The success of the firm was initiated when the steamboat Lexington caught fire in Long Island Sound with more than one hundred lives lost. Several days later Mr. Currier was ready with a picture of the ship, together with a description of the disaster. This type of print, known as the “rush”, was one type for which the firm became known. The other, the “stock” print depicted every subject relating to American life–sports, games, home life, religion, entertainment, views of cities, and so forth. Currier and Ives also made an important contribution to the political history of the United States through the publication of the broadsheet lithographic cartoon through which the people received a large part of their political knowledge. This print is of the “stock” print genre and it depicts a scene of hunting, with an encampment of mean and their dogs. It is an excellent example of Currier and Ives’ quintessentially American prints.