“John L. Woden. Commanding the Montauk. Capt. U.S. Navy.” Cincinnati: Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co., ca. 1862. Lithograph. Ca. 13 x 9 1/2. Very good condition.
Perhaps in late 1861, but certainly by mid-1862, Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co. began to issue a series of portraits of Civil War figures: politicians as well as military and naval officers. These prints, which the firm continued to issue at least as late as 1864, were in many ways similar to the portraits issued by other firms such as Currier & Ives, however these Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co. are quite unlike the prints by other publishers in one salient feature.
As discussed in Milt Kaplan’s “Heads of States,” (Winterthur Portfolio 6. Charlottesville, 1970 Pp. 135-150.) prints of different figures share the same, or very similar backgrounds, with the identical horses, landscapes, troops, ships, desks, and so forth. While some of the backgrounds the firm used appear only in one print, others are shared by between three and five figures, and one has as many as seven different generals sharing it. Overall, the firm issued seventy-nine different prints of sixty-nine different Union politicians and officers. The Ehrgott, Forbriger & Co. prints were issued separately for those in the mid-west who wanted to have these images of Union heroes and they have also been found in bound portfolios. However they are found, they are very rare and a fascinating part of Civil War history. For further information, see Mark E. Neely Jr. & Harold Holzer’s The Union Image: Popular Prints of the Civil War North. (Chapel Hill, 2000.)